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.