Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm a what?

Apparently I'm a libertarian. Who knew?

According to David Boaz and David Kirby's The Libertarian Vote (pdf), which sets out to explain and analyze the libertarian vote. Most voters who hold libertarian views don't identify themselves as libertarian, though many of them would say they are "fiscally conservative and socially liberal. And all this time I thought I was a Democrat.

They make a point about lack of organization. Conservatives organize through their churches, the Christian Coalition, and Focus on the Family; liberals organize through unions, MoveOn.org and other websites, and identity-politics groups. People who want something from government—whether spending programs or lifestyle regulations—are more likely to organize politically.

Boaz and Kirby believe this disconnect explains the confusing failures of polls to accurately predict election results in the last presidential election.

Consider the 2004 exit polls. They provide examples of people who don’t fit neatly on either side of the liberal-conservative, red-blue divide. According to the poll, for instance, 25 percent of respondents support same-sex marriage, of whom 22 percent voted for Bush, with 77 percent perhaps understandably for Kerry. Another 35 percent support civil unions, and 52 percent of those voted for Bush. That means that 28 million Bush voters support either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples--not your stereotypical "red" voters.

Similarly, 49 percent of respondents told exit pollsters they did not think government should “do more to solve problems.” Of those, 29 percent voted for Kerry—that’s 17 million Kerry voters who thought government should not do more. In a remarkable corroboration, a completely different calculation comes to the same result. The 2004 postelection survey of the American National Election Studies found that 29.1 percent of self-identified Kerry voters preferred the statement “The less government the better” to “There are more things the government should be doing.” Based on Kerry’s popular vote total, that is once again 17 million Kerry voters who prefer “less government.”

So between Bush voters who support gay marriage or civil unions and Kerry voters who want less government, we have 45 million voters who don’t seem to fit neatly into the red-blue, liberal-conservative dichotomy.
[footnotes omitted]

Currently I'm registered to vote as "not affiliated with any party." I'm one of those swing voters, although not in this state, which is heavily Democratic and will undoubtedly go Democratic in the presidential election. That doesn't bug me as much as it might if I were really a Republican, but it does annoy me to think that my vote doesn't count. Even in this state thinking of myself as a swing voter isn't particularly helpful.

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