Sunday, May 17, 2020

Libertarian Party must connect with its voters

Political scientist finds disconnect in Libertarian Party platform, voters | University of Dayton - News:

May 1, 2020 - "University of Dayton political scientist Christopher Devine has written the definitive academic study of the Libertarian Party — America’s third largest political party. He documents a growing disconnect between the party’s radical platform and the more mainstream, 'fiscally conservative and socially liberal' policy preferences of its rank-and-file supporters....

'Devine examines the Libertarian Party’s history, electoral performance and prospects for growth in the future. In addition, he conducts the first-ever survey-based analysis of party voters’ and  members’ policy views for Beyond Donkeys and Elephants: Minor Political Parties in Contemporary American Politics. The book, released this spring, is the 'most comprehensive account ever written of contemporary minor political parties in the United States,' according to publisher University Press of Kansas.

"The Libertarian Party 'portrays itself as the third choice for Americans who find themselves dissatisfied with the two-party system — not a fringe group of small-government radicals but a mainstream alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties with broad electoral appeal and the potential to emerge as a major party in its own right,' Devine writes.

"Devine’s analysis shows that Libertarian Party voters and members are fiscally conservative and socially liberal — but not radically so. Essentially, they agree with Republicans on economic policy and Democrats on social policy. However, Libertarians are less likely than Democrats or Republicans to support the use of military force. 'Yet they hardly qualify as extreme in this regard — or even "noninterventionist," really,' Devine writes.

“'Libertarians, it would seem, are not nearly as radical as their party platform,' he writes. For instance, only 12% of Libertarian Party voters agree that taxes should never be increased....

"[I]n 2016, ... presidential candidate Gary Johnson appeared on all 50 state ballots and won 3.3% of the national popular vote — three times more than the nearest competitor ... and more than any other minor-party candidate since 1996. Devine also notes that in 2016, the Libertarian Party had more registered voters (approximately 500,000) than any other minor party, and won a higher percentage of the vote in U.S. Senate races than at any other point in party history.

"To succeed in 2020 and beyond, Devine argues, the Libertarian Party must focus less on ideological purity and more on appealing to the broader electorate with its 'fiscally conservative and socially liberal' message. It could do so by moderating the party’s radical platform, and by nominating a credible presidential candidate, such as Congressman [Justin] Amash -- even if doing so may upset the party’s ideological base."

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