One more bit from our post-election Zogby poll: We asked voters if they considered themselves “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” A whopping 59 percent said they did. When we added to the question “also known as libertarian,” 44 percent still claimed that description. That’s too many voters for any party to ignore. ~David Kirby & David Boaz
So now “libertarians” of this kind make up 44% of the population! That’s a lot more than the measly 13% of “libertarian-leaning” voters they talk up elsewhere in the article. It’s also complete nonsense. But, of course, “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” does not equal libertarian. (Vague, self-identification tests like this also tell us nothing concrete about actual policy preferences.) Fiscally conservative typically means in practice, “I don’t like high taxes and I don’t like deficits–because I don’t like high taxes.” A fiscal conservative and a libertarian might see eye to eye about reducing taxes at certain times, or they might agree about deficit reduction at another time, and they will almost certainly be on the same page in worrying about new spending, but someone who accepts the label “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” is someone who will often consider himself an “independent” or a “moderate” Republican. Nowadays almost no one admits to being “fiscally liberal,” which has the ring of profligacy and recklessness (years and years of effective propaganda to this effect have done their work well), so this result probably includes a good number of folks who would think of themselves as “centrist” Democrats. Notice that we are not given any more details about who makes up this fabled 44% “libertarian” bloc.
Messrs. Kirby and Boaz take the Cubin “slap a cripple” incident as some sort of symbol of the GOP need to win over libertarian voters. Except, as Goppers will point out, they still didn’t lose that seat after their candidate threatened to smack someone in a wheelchair–if they can’t lose under those conditions, when will they? Frighteningly, Barbara Cubin’s victory in spite of herself represents the level of GOP strength in the Mountain West that has barely been dented by “the wave” this year. Cubin’s victory, which was almost a loss because of her appalling statement, shows us instead that the most “libertarians” and Libertarians can do is fail to serve as a spoiler in one of the most politically libertarian states in the country when a Republican incumbent’s infamously bad personality causes her campaign to implode. If they can barely capitalise on opportunities like this, if straight-up libertarianism is so unattractive even to Wyoming voters in a year of general anti-GOP discontent and running against one of the most unpleasant incumbents in the land, how can anyone take them seriously as major players?