PUBLIC OPINION > A Libertarian Can Be Elected President One Day

News 2012/05/16 22:00:00
As with his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns, Ron Paul was able to accumulate an enormously active and responsive following this year, but once again, he's wound up a little short. He's run as a third-party libertarian and as a Republican; he's run in good times and bad; he's remained (relatively) honest and incorruptible in the eyes of the public. Still, nothing. If he can't make it to the Oval Office, will a libertarian candidate ever have a shot? We asked the public.

The results were pretty close, but in politics, you don't need much of a margin to win. 53% is more than enough to land the presidency, even if you're Grover Cleveland. If we acted like everything that hasn't happened yet could never happen, humanity would never move forward. Will it happen? Who knows. But the point is, it could. This isn't about whether or not you'd want a libertarian president, but whether or not it would be possible to break the two-party system and elect someone outside of the box. As the Top Comment wrote, "At this point, they can only try to forestall the inevitable. A free and voluntary society is coming."

Libertarians Have Faith

Conservatives were a little more likely than liberals to trust that a libertarian president could win, but they were both unconvinced. Same goes for moderates. The only political demographics that thought it could happen were libertarians (obviously) and political "others." The real kicker was how many voters fell into those categories -- 45% combined.

Smokers Could See It Happening

One thing we've noticed in the past is a correlation between smokers and libertarian thinking. We've suggested that maybe recent proposals threatening to slap graphic warnings on packs, or jack the price of a pack up to $100, are the reason smokers are so like-minded. Here, again, smokers were much more likely than nonsmokers to believe libertarians could take the presidency.

High School Hot Spot

In his books, Ron Paul describes the overwhelming response he's gotten from college students who are frustrated with the rigid two-party political structure, but the breakdown shows that college students are no more likely than anyone else. In fact, high school students were the real supporters here. 84% of high schoolers said it's possible -- almost as much as the libertarians themselves.

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Top Opinion

  • The Bantam Seditioner 2012/05/17 00:01:07 (edited)
    The Bantam Seditioner
    All these comments bemoaning how "crazy" and "extreme" Ron Paul is supposed to be would have gotten under my skin at one time, but now they just amuse me, The enemies of liberty finally see the long-term impact of Ron Paul's campaign on the minds and hearts of Americans and they are going into full-blown panic mode.

    Unfortunately - civility and a firm grasp of logic not being most garden-variety statists' strong suit - the only tools left in their arsenal now are sophomoric shaming and social ostracism attempts using flaccid and meaningless buzzwords. "Radical!" "Crazy!" "Extreme!" is the kind of rubbish they bleat about when they can no longer find coherent justifications for their barbarically coercive models of society.

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  • Z Zombie ... 2012/05/17 00:19:59
    Government is always growing. Moderate government doesn't avoid bigger government, it causes it.
  • Z Christi... 2012/05/17 00:18:14
    Your post is funny because it shows that you know nothing about our policies. They are based around the fact that people are corrupt.
  • Savior Christi... 2012/05/17 02:45:40
    Actually libertarians are the most aware of human interaction, and any consensual human interaction should not be suppressed by any government.

    Do not confuse libertarianism with anarchism, Anarchists want there to be no government and will often talk about a voluntary society. Most libertarians support military and police, just most libertarians think both should be under public scrutiny because everyone makes mistakes even government officials. Which most people who think libertarianism is bad blatantly disregard human interaction in government and economy.
  • merlinskiss 2012/05/16 23:46:42
    Ron Paul is first and foremost a Republican. If he runs as an independent and opens up his support? I might go with him. Until then? NO!
  • Striker merlins... 2012/05/17 00:18:45
    Independents and Write-Ins get no electoral votes, so a waste. If things break right between now and August, Gary Johnson and the Libertarians could take the prize.
  • Mr. Won... merlins... 2012/05/17 03:21:53
    Mr. Wonderful
    He says himself he's really a Libertarian. Maybe you need to get up to speed.
  • Bulanov... merlins... 2012/05/19 19:12:12
    Bulanova (Team Hargitay)
    Just because of a letter by his name? You're really going to let that do all your thinking for you and dictate your vote?
  • roger.c... merlins... 2012/05/21 16:53:54
    The man is a RINO and truly a Libertarian with an R behind his name.
  • Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum 2012/05/16 23:40:39
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    High school kids who smoke are not exactly political punditry experts. Most supporters of libertarianism are young and naieve and have yet to experience the real world.
  • Doford Warren ... 2012/05/17 00:01:26
    You mean lack of experience. As people get older they are more inclined to seek the protection of the government because they don't have the experience to be self reliant.

    It won't change till we stop the economic bubbles, the food bubbles, the home bubbles, the education bubbles, etc.
  • Striker Doford 2012/05/17 00:19:55
    Collapse will stop the bubbles, where "We" cannot.
  • Warren ... Doford 2012/05/17 05:27:39
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    A person wise to the world knows that self reliance is only possible for the unabomber and grizzly adams. The rest of us need to get along as a functional member of society. Libertarianism works in dime store novels written by Ayn Rand but not in the real world.
  • roger.c... Warren ... 2012/05/21 16:52:59
    You're absolutely right, Warren. They are stuck with very limited linear thinking and can't comprehend the consequences of a Ron Paul social or foreign policy. They get caught up in his buzz words and fail to realize that he is simply putting an attractive wrapper on his crap sandwich.
  • jacob crim 2012/05/16 23:34:06
    jacob crim
    Its going to take the damn near destruction of our country for people to realize that neither democrats or republicans can get it together.
  • Urhsten jacob crim 2012/05/17 01:29:37
    That was the best answer on this entire question.
  • Communi... jacob crim 2012/05/17 03:44:32
    Play fallout. Actually there are always people stupid enough.
  • Buoyant Leadraft 2012/05/16 23:25:23
    Buoyant Leadraft
    Gotta love the Ralph Nader of the right! You go Ron Paul, you go! :::YAWN:::
  • Jim Zambelli 2012/05/16 23:24:29
    Jim Zambelli
    No! Libertarians will never have a viable candidate because they have as many bad ideas and views as they do good ones. In some instances they seem like ultra liberals, in other cases like right wing radicals. In essence, Ron Paul's ineptness on certain issues didn't help their cause one bit!
  • Striker Jim Zam... 2012/05/17 00:21:19
    Since the Dem-Reps have nothing that works, you might consider opening your mind to alternatives.
  • El Prez 2012/05/16 23:23:19
    El Prez
    I REALLY DOUBT IT. BUT WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A BLACK MAN COULD HAVE DONE SO, JUST A FEW YEARS AGO. The caps are not to yell, they we'r just on and I am too lazy to retype.
  • Jim Zam... El Prez 2012/06/19 14:34:21
    Jim Zambelli
    Using the "black man" analogy is a bit farfetched because it was only a matter of time before the physiological differences between humans, particularly skin color, would be seen as a non-factor in choosing the leader of our country. That's different than a political philosophy that is controversial at best that runs the gammut from being ultra liberal (ignorning the dangers of drug use, yet making it legal) to ultra conservative (protecting individual rights even when it protects the very people who are trying to destroy our society and culture.)
  • scbluesman13 2012/05/16 23:15:51
    I believe that a strong third party (independent) candidate does have a shot one day to win the white house, but I don't think it will ever be a libertarian. Certainly not one as crazy as Ron Paul.
  • Just Jenn for Now 2012/05/16 23:12:27
    Just Jenn for Now
    A Libertarian is undoubtedly THE BEST choice we could have.
  • Jim Zam... Just Je... 2012/06/19 14:36:17
    Jim Zambelli
    That yet to be proven.
  • Just Je... Jim Zam... 2012/06/19 19:32:45
    Just Jenn for Now
    Then only one way to find out - ELECT one.
  • Brynn 2012/05/16 23:09:29
    I believe that in my lifetime, we will have a Libertarian president.
  • Jim Zam... Brynn 2012/06/19 14:47:43
    Jim Zambelli
    Not unless they learn how to fool all of the people most of the time. Their interpretation of the constitution is" "We the individual of the United States," vice "We the people ..." Looking at their basic philosophy over the past decade, they really aren't in the business of having a "United States of America." It's always been "their way or no way!" To be fair, many of the things they like, I like. But there are too many other things they see as being "reasonable" that's makes them unattractive. For instance, listening to Ron Paul's claim that our enemies have a right to hate us, and that we should deal with an enemy that will never compromise their objectives, is the kind of rhetoric that is totally naive and short-sighted. Even Obama has learned that lesson even though he doesn't have a clue what to do next.
  • john Kills 2012/05/16 23:05:24
    john Kills
    If people would pull their heads out of the dirt, look at what has happened to the country, think about what needs to be done to fix the problem(S), forget about party loyalty and vote for the person who has the best ideas, Yes
  • Uranos7 2012/05/16 23:03:25 (edited)
    So put Ron Paul into cryogenic freeze and he can run again in a decade or so and win.
    I guess he is just too far ahead of his time.
  • DFA 2012/05/16 22:55:43
    We need at least 3 viable parties. So hopefully, yes.
  • HalMorris DFA 2012/05/18 15:58:34
    That's dangerous to do unless we institute run-off elections, considering state votes are cast according to pluralities, and we have many instances of a Pres. candidate winning with a popular minority when a run-off between the top 2 candidates would have produced a different result.
  • DFA HalMorris 2012/05/19 02:04:23
    I didn't get into such detail. But yes. All of it.
  • Pm 2012/05/16 22:54:27
    Libertard can never be a President
  • Uranos7 Pm 2012/05/16 23:02:05
    People said the same thing about liberals 40 years ago.
  • Pm Uranos7 2012/05/16 23:36:01
    FDR was a liberal......There was a liberal party 180 years ago
  • Uranos7 Pm 2012/05/16 23:55:10 (edited)
    That liberal party and the one today are completely different species.
    Although he did start social security, unemployment, and mnay entitlement programs wich would label him proggressive he would not have supported abortion, gay rights, or civil rights which would indicate him as a liberal.

    Not everything he did was helpful to the people either, 40% cuts in spending on veterans' benefits – by removing 500,000 veterans and widows from the pension rolls and reducing benefits for the remainder, as well as cutting the salaries of federal employees and reducing spending on research and education
  • Pm Uranos7 2012/05/17 00:03:19
    I am not a fan of FDR. His isolationism allowed Hitler's rise....Kind of how a Ron Paul Presidency would end up
  • jdemme Pm 2012/05/17 00:22:57
    FDR practiced Belligerent Neutrality, and greatly aided Europe with everything besides people before 1941. The reason he didn't jump on the war bandwagon from the start was two fold: the American people were sick of war, and America was in a Depression.
  • HalMorris jdemme 2012/05/18 15:54:19
    W.r.t. FDR's "isolationism" - I wonder what spin doctor is promoting that notion? Seriously, there must be some right wing pseudo-historian pushing that idea, or else PaulM is quite an original thinker. Maybe the same guy who says Hoover was a huge new-dealer before FDR (an important prop for the "meme" that the Great Depression was actually caused by the New Deal ... to deal with the uncomfortable problem that it went on for a few years BEFORE FDR came to office.

    To jdemme: more than that: neither the American people nor congress were ready to declare war (that's how it was done those days - *Congress* declared war) until the U.S. was actually attacked. Also FDR making some wishful thinking type statement like "we *ought to* enter the war", or promoting it in a big way would have had the opposite effect, causing an isolationist (as they were in those days) Republican to be elected.

    FDR, very early on saw America's participation in the war as inevitable and necessary. Read Larrabee's _Commander in Chief_ for the astonishingly deep and thorough ways FDR and Gen. Marshall prepared the country to enter the war as soon as the people and congress were ready to ratify it, and to swing the balance in the two largest wars in history and bring them to a close in under 4 years. Also read histories of the Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil war to see how unusual FDR's hitting the ground running was.
  • jdemme HalMorris 2012/05/18 15:58:32
    Yep, completely agree. Thanks for the support.

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