And there are certainly libertarians who think Obama will be better on the war and on foreign policy, on executive power and on surveillance than McCain. ~David Boaz
These libertarians are the ones who are already being proven wrong. In any case, this reminds me of the recent Rasmussen item that studied support for the general election candidates according to different fiscal and social “ideological” pairings. This offers some interesting information that works to undermine the Cato thesis that libertarian-leaning voters make up as much as 13% of the electorate, and even more strikingly it accomplishes this while using the same flawed ”fiscally conservative, socially liberal” definition for libertarians that Kirby and Boaz were using last year. According to Rasmussen’s numbers, such fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters make up just 4% of likely voters. It seems to be the case that Obama is considerably more popular among these voters, leading 53-38 over McCain.
Interestingly, the unnamed “other” candidate does not get his strongest support from this “libertarian” group, which gives a third candidate just 3%, but gets it from those who consider themselves fiscally liberal and socially conservative (9%). It’s not clear which third-party candidate, if any, such voters would support, so it’s possible that more of these social conservatives could be brought into McCain’s camp. Naturally, the fisc-lib/soc-con group is Obama’s weakest among fiscal liberals, and it is also a group with a significant number of undecided voters.
How many “Obamacons” are there? I’m surprised to find that there are more than I thought there would be, though there are very few fiscally conservative, socially conservative Obama supporters. Prof. Kmiec does not have a lot of company. All together, variants of fiscal conservative, including the “libertarians,” make up 16% of Obama’s support. If you add the fiscal moderate/social conservative support, that comes to 24% of his support. Here’s the thing: Obama is neither fiscally conservative nor fiscally moderate, and he certainly isn’t socially conservative. If these voters put any store at all by how they have labeled themselves and what these labels mean*, it seems possible that a huge part of Obama’s current coalition and the basis for his five-point lead in Rasmussen’s tracking poll can be poached or driven away from him mainly by focusing on how expensive and unaffordable his spending proposals are. These voters represent almost 12 points in the general election tracking poll. If McCain can win over just half of them, he can win narrowly. McCain’s coalition is much more concentrated on the right with just 11% of his supporters coming from the left or from groups with uncertain ideological leanings, which gives him a more stable floor of support he can build on.
*I know most people don’t vote according to ideological labels or paradigms, but those who are able to define themselves with these pairings must have some policy preferences that more naturally align with one candidate rather than another.