Tea Party around 50% libertarian; Cato.

For some time there has been some conjecture here as to whether the tea party movement is in any way libertarian or whether it is in fact a fairly hard line conservative group that just wants lower taxes. Cato has done a survey at a Tea Party Convention in Virginia, with interesting results. Over six hundred delegates were surveyed, and found that libertarians were 48 percent of Tea Partiers, versus 51 percent who held traditional conservative views.

The method of determining the classification of conservative involved three positions, the first two of which pretty well were agreed to by all. These were that, “the less government the better,” and that “the free market can handle these problems without government being involved.” The one that defined the difference was, “the government should promote traditional values.”

A previous survey by others revealed a similar split, but was criticized on the basis that Ron Paul was one of those who spoke there and it was argued that his presence had skewed the poll in favor of libertarians. The fact that the results are much the same seems to indicate that Paul’s support base is wider than the libertarian fringe some observers seem to indicate. If this view were accurate then we would see a libertarian spike associated with his presence.

Ron Paul is more associated with small government, fiscal accountability, and constitutional governance, more than as a strict libertarian, although these tend to run together.

This has some pretty strong ramifications for 2012 for the GOP presidential choice. Current polling indicates that there are three front-runners each of whom has around 20% support. These are Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin. Whoever gets the nod will have to have Tea Party and independent support to get across the line on the day.

Palin has good relations with some libertarians, indeed the Alaska LP seems to accept her although she is really a conservative, and Romney seems acceptable although Romneycare, which has many similarities with Obamacare is a real negative. Huckabee tends to be a religious zealot and would find it difficult to rally libertarians or independents.

America has a larger religious right than Australia, and as result Huckabee is seen as a credible candidate there while over here he would be ridiculed. Huckabee for President has a ring to it over there, but the Aussie equivalent, “Fred Nile for PM,” would probably get you certified. The memorable thing about his campaign in 2008 was his reply to an ad by Fred Thompson. The Huckabee ad did not address any of Fred’s points, but strongly criticized him for putting out a release on a Sunday, when he “should have been in church.”

Out of the three, Palin would have the best chance of winning, although it is difficult to see her as Presidential, although better than the incumbent. We really need more time to make an assessment and hopefully during that time some others will come to the fore.

22 thoughts on “Tea Party around 50% libertarian; Cato.

  1. Terje, I think there is probably a huge correlation with internet use and libertarianism. The internet is a wonderful expression of freedom, and possibly this brushes off on people who use it. Certainly there is also so much more possible exposure to ideas of freedom. I have been persuaded and been able to persuade others to move into the direction of libertarianism solely due to the internet. Maybe as internet usage grows, libertarianism will grow as well.

  2. I couldn’t find that, although the polling was more Tea Party orientated. It is noted though that about 60% of both groups get their movement information from the net, (email 35%) and about 80% of both groups get news from Fox. Neither figure is surprising, Fox is the only network not hostile to them, and most information is going net.

    I would assume that Cato may have something else on it and perhaps one of the Cato kind of people may be able to help.

  3. Did i read that right, are you really suggesting that Palin would be a better president?

    It worries me a little that there is actually a decent chunk of common ground between libertarians and tea partiers but that they’re masquerading as a lot of things they aren’t (feminist supporters for one). They’re going to get a boost from the libertarian base in the polls but their policies will reflect their over-riding right wing conservative religious (illiberall) policy. More than that, they’ll pass on a boost to the Republicans who are even more so. Its about more than just tax alone, the government has an equal duty to the poor and non-religious and they’ll be left for dead.

    For the moment, one could argue that this is speculation but going off the tone of their rallies, and popular base (white, wealthy and christian almost entirely) there is no reason to assume otherwise. Since the party is still a non-governing or even shadow party, they have the luxury of rhetoric without having to answer tough policy question or actually broker new legislation and get anything done.

  4. By the assumption you make in your comment you seem think that having the best chance of winning equates to being the best President. This is a common fallacy, the reality being that most of the best people don’t want to have anything to do with the post. Positions of great power will naturally attract those who want to have great power, and that is the reason why we are losing our freedoms.

    If you are arguing against my contention that Palin would have been a better President than Obama, Jimmy Carter was. Palin would never have passed Porkulous, would not have created Palincare, would not have propped up Wall St, the banks, created Government motors, or nationalised swathes of the economy.

    If you really believe the statement: their rallies, and popular base (white, wealthy and christian almost entirely) you have to stop regarding Huffington Post and MSNBC as serious news sources.

    While some mistakes were made, the Tea Party caused the election of a number of women, African Americans, and Hispanics over the strong objections of the RNC. Nobody stepped aside to let them in, they won on their merits, the way it should be. These include Susan Martinez, and Marko Rubio, (Hispanic) Nikki Haley, (Sikh) and these two guys:

    Not bad for white, wealthy, etc

  5. ” you seem think that having the best chance of winning equates to being the best President. ”

    No, that is not what I think, but what I understood you to be saying. I misunderstood what you meant from the following muddy sentence: “…Palin would have the best chance of winning, although it is difficult to see her as Presidential, although better than the incumbent”

    I read this to mean that although it is difficult to see her as Presidential, she would be better than the incumbent, not that she had a better chance of winning – which was the first rather than the second (and thus apparent) statement to which the last part of your sentence related.

    And, cheers for the condescension, I use neither the Huffington post or MSNBC as news sources and actually read on both sides of this issue.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge – simply having some reps that aren’t white men doesn’t address any race or gender equality issues in and of itself. Lets see where they stand when the real debate starts. At the core of the tea party line are some hard and requisite stances on the economy, but what solutions are they really proposing to implement?

    Obviously the bailouts and stimulus were reprehensible, but I wouldn’t straight trade the increased fiscal responsibility for religious hijacking of individual freedom. That’s giving up one thing for another, and what you would have gained In terms of easing of taxation could easily be repealed by the next government without the overturning of the restrictions on liberty that were imposed as a result of the previous government. I hate both but I know which one I’d take if the choice was between tax and government interference in my personal life. As I said, the over-riding cause for my concern is the increased power that will run off into the republican camp.

    In a basic mission statement, the tea party may seem very appealing, but I’m holding off my support for now. Something stinks here and I’m pretty sure we’re about to see an all out war on the poor.

    As for Obama-care, this mule of bill was never going to be effective after all the horse trading that had to be done to get it through – what’s new though, welcome to U.S. politics – but it desperately needed reform of some kind as the current system was just a slush fund for wasting tax and still failed as a social system to those who it should’ve supported.

    Many poeple see the open market as the panacea for the worlds woes, and whilst I would agree on many counts, I have to disagree on healthcare. Complete deregulation of healthcare just won’t work, and the pillars of the free market ideology support that (e.g. buyer and seller don’t have equal information; there is no easy access to the market for providers; and there isn’t an abundance of choice due to the specialization and sub-specialisation of healthcare facilities and practitioners as well as the combinations in which these are found and need to work). There only seem to be two popular schools of thought on this issue – that it needs to be made a completely free market, or that it should be socialized completely, in which case it will fail, as it does in every socialized sector because nationalization doesn’t work here as anywhere else. At least he’s not kidding himself that the system works when it’s clearly awful.

  6. “white, wealthy and christian” sounds like a description of America.

    I think health is an area in fundamental need of market oriented reforms both in the USA and in Australia. The cost of not doing this is prematurely dead humans. I think there is some role for government in the financing process (ie lending to those that can’t afford a given medical procedure through some mechanism like HECS) but otherwise government should be vacating the field. Hospitals should be privatised, insurance should be optional, prices should be unregulated.

  7. Palin does not seem to have the intellectual underpinning of somebody such as Reagan. However I suspect that like Reagan she would surround herself with people that do. At least based on the endorsements I have seen her make. However I can’t get excited about a Palin presidency except in so far as it would annoy the heck out of the left.

  8. I agree that Palin might be very scary on the personal freedom and foreign policy fronts. But what other president isn’t, or hasn’t been? If 50% of tea-partiers are libertarian, then she is going to have to take this into account, lest she lose support. She could be serious about smaller government and she has indicated that she is sympathetic to the decriminalisation of marijuana. By comparison, she could be the best president in recent history.

    That is if she runs, she may stay on the sidelines, where she has tremendous influence. There is a chance for dramatic economic deteriorations in America before late 2012, which could cause conservative Americans to soften their support for war and ‘traditional values’ and run to Ron Paul. Imagine; Paul-Palin 2012.

  9. I think Rep Ryan is an optimistic, well spoken Republican who shares a lot in common with libertarians. He also has sensible and moderate views like Paul, despite what shrill left whingers say.

    Ryan/Paul 2012. One from the House and one from the Senate.

  10. What happened to the libertarian Gary Johnson, ex New Mexico Governor – I thought we was making a run for 2012?

  11. Papachango – Gary Johnson is still on the cards and is my preferred president. He is doing lots of interviews on the marijuana issue but will soon need to broaden his message.

  12. Rand Paul will need a few years in the Senate before he will be deemed to have enough experience to do the job.

    Generally Governors are favoured having had executive experience running a state, although some Senators, like Kennedy, and Obama have been elected. The only two to make it from the House in the last 50 years are Johnson and Ford, both of whom arrived there from the VP role.

    Gary Johnson has bloody good credentials, but he needs to raise his profile fairly quickly and get a better hairdresser. At this stage he seems to be flying below the radar.

  13. Jim – I follow Gary on facebook and he does seem to be regularily on high profile TV talk shows. He has spoken at rallies. Whenever somebody compiles a list of possible Republican presidential candidates his name is in the top dozen. I suspect that his main problem is that he does not start out with a high national profile. New Mexico is a small state and he hasn’t previously entered the fray in federal politics. And unlike Donald Trump he hasn’t hosted a high profile TV show. At this stage in the game I think he is doing about as well as can be expected.

  14. p.s. Not suggesting Trump is a serious option but he can get headlines on the issue rather easier than others. He is already a household name.

  15. Interesting Terje, I haven’t been following him but on looking into it, I think he will have a shot at it. He will possibly announce at the RLC National Convention where he is described as “featuring”. He is an obvious endorsee for them, and I have doubts that any of the others mentioned who are credible at this stage would be.

    It is refreshing to see someone more in the Goldwater mould rather than Reaganite.

    Trump is probably just blowing off steam and Americans are used to having politicians for President, Eisenhower was the last who came from elsewhere. If the present anti politician mood continues, he could be worth looking at. Lets face it, a businessman might make a difference, although I am not sure what the White House would look like at the top of a 150 story tower block. 🙂

  16. I wish we still had a ‘Discussion’ page, since I now want to discuss an off-topic subject. A great show to watch on Monday nights is ‘Markmywords’, by a guy called Mark. He discusses Non-PC subjects, and often sounds very libertarian. This is on TVS, 1030 p.m. Next week, try him out!

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