It's a Perfect Storm: Poll Finds Massive Libertarian Shift in America

By the Left Coast Rebel

Nate Silver at the New York Times points to polling that shows some pretty shocking news: more and more Americans consider themselves libertarians these days (and that is bad news for both progressive-statist political parties):

Since 1993, CNN has regularly asked a pair of questions that touch on libertarian views of the economy and society:

Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

A libertarian, someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least, would typically choose the first view in the first question and the second view in the second.

In the polls, the responses to both questions had been fairly steady for many years. The economic question has showed little long-term trend, although tolerance for governmental intervention rose following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The social libertarian viewpoint — that government should not favor any particular set of values — has gained a couple of percentage points since the 1990s but not more than that.

But in CNN’s latest version of the poll, conducted earlier this month, the libertarian response to both questions reached all-time highs. Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008. (It was the first time that answer won a plurality in CNN’s poll.)

Silver provides a graph showing the libertarian surge:

Wielding total control of the media, entertainment and academia, they do their best to hammer it out of us decade after decade but most Americans still believe in the simple Jefferson adage, "the government is best which governs least."

Nearly every ill that our nation faces today has been caused by the heavy hand of an out-of-control government, far astray from the limited constraints of the Constitution. That's why we see such a huge paradigm shift to the libertarian way of thinking -- I speak for myself as a former table-pounding G.O.P. partisan (years and years ago).

Via Memeorandum. More
discussion @ Points and Figures and Cato @ Liberty. Cross posted to Libertarian Patriot.

UPDATED: How ironic is it that this NYT article pointing to America's surging libertarian outlooks stands next to a libertarian hit piece at Memeorandum by Stephen Metcalf at Slate Magazine, "The Liberty Scam"


  1. Add me to the "Me Too" list. I used to think Libertarians were pacifist hippies who only cared about getting pot legalized.

    I am still not a pacifist and I dont smoke weed. Still think we need a strong military presence and proactive national defense; and more and more I begin to believe weed should be legal. But I am still not a complete libertarian.

  2. I'm with you on that, Ryan -- I didn't used to get libertarianism, although in a sense (even when I was young), I was already one. I have always had a strong aversion to authority (especially government) and a questioning mind. Unfortunately, many Republicans today have been hoodwinked by big-government statist republicans...

  3. I also believe in pot legalization and am not as pacifist as most libertarians are :)

  4. I think I'm split between the two questions. I think government should promote traditional values, e.g. education, work, accountability, self-reliance. They could do this by getting rid of governmental hand-outs and promoting the benefits of capitalism and free markets.

  5. I don't think people really understand the term "Liberty"...
    And how difficult is it to grasp the constitutional concept of limiting the power of government?

  6. I hope libertarians and conservatives can come together in 2012 to roll back the power and influence of the state.

    I'm not sure the gap between libertarians and conservatives on social issues is as large as it might seem, but even if there are some important differences on a few of those issues, it's absolutely essential that we overlook those differences over the next 500 days.


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