Poll: More Americans Define Themselves as Libertarian

Wednesday, 11 Sep 2013 09:42 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Increasing numbers of Americans – a solid 58 percent – believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, a new nationwide poll has found.

The results bear out what political observers have long said about a libertarian resurgence.

While as many as 44 percent of those surveyed by FreedomWorks were unclear what libertarianism stands for, several held libertarian beliefs.

For example, 66 percent said they were fiscally conservative though socially moderate. Most, 59 percent, were willing to settle for smaller government even if it meant fewer services. And 52 percent did not want government to promote any particular set of values.

Among Republicans, 42 percent held favorable attitudes toward "libertarian" values.

In foreign affairs, a majority of those polled, 58 percent, did not want the United States to take the leading role in trying to solve international conflicts.

Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, 78 percent described themselves as fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Social issues have become less relevant to these voters. Only 27 percent picked "traditional values" as their top priority.

Most said the economy and Obamacare were their main concerns, followed by jobs and immigration.

Promoting individual freedom through lower taxes and reducing the size and scope was the top concern for 40 percent of polled Republications. The national debt was the top issue for 27 percent, while 18 percent chose a strong national defense.

As to party affiliation, a plurality of respondents, 41 percent, said they were Democrats, while 36 percent supported the GOP, and 17 percent said they were independents. Only 24 percent of those surveyed described themselves as liberal.

Despite continuing media reports of polarization in Washington, two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents preferred that their member of Congress kept their promises and stuck to principles rather than "compromise in a bipartisan way to get things done."

"People are looking at the government more suspiciously," Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who supervised the poll, told Politico. "They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion." Voters increasingly feel the government is "too expensive, invasive, and expansive."

"From Obamacare on down, sticking to principle is where the Republican base is today," added David Kirby, vice president of opinion research for FreedomWorks. "It’s an example of how off the Republican establishment is from their base."

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