A recent Public Policy Polling analysis looks at how Libertarian campaigns in North Carolina (particularly those for Senate and Governor) buck the ‘conventional wisdom’ that Libertarians ‘take’ votes from the right or from Republicans. The report notes:
-60% of voters who support [L] Michael Munger for Governor support Barack Obama for President with 19% going for Bob Barr and just 14% for John McCain. A plurality also support [D] Kay Hagan (40%), with 36% going to [L] Christopher Cole and 19% to [R] Elizabeth Dole. So in this case his supporters are pretty clearly taking support from Bev Perdue. …
-Among those supporting [L] Christopher Cole for Senate it is basically a dead heat between John McCain and Barack Obama. 39% of them go for McCain, 34% of them go for Obama, and 19% support Bob Barr. …
-Bob Barr’s supporters are also going Libertarian for US Senate- 41% support [L] Cole, 28% support [D] Hagan, and 25% support [R] Dole. For Governor it’s almost a three way tie, with 36% going for [R] McCrory, 33% for Munger, and 27% for [D] Perdue. …
Anecdotally, I’ve also had occasion to note a lot of support from the ‘progressive left’ (and from Republicans as well!) while reviewing a bunch of comments received by the Munger volunteer coordinator. Democrat Bev Perdue is not popular among the far-left crowd. In fact, she’s really not popular among the middle-left or the right-left crowd as far as I can tell. She’s just slightly less unpopular (perhaps) than the Republican in the race.
Some of the comments the Munger campaign has recieved (I have added the emphasis):
“I’m a tried and true Democrat who is disillusioned with Bev Perdue and think Munger has the right message.”
“I, a progressive Democrat, will be voting for you. Your stances on the issues most closely resemble my values.”
“I’m glad you are running and providing us with an intelligent, progressive alternative.”
“I just listened to Dr. Munger on the radio in complete and happy amazement. I have always identified myself as a liberal Democrat; however, I’m tired of listening to Perdue give the same pat and rehearsed answers I have heard forever. THEN I heard Dr Munger’s well-considered revolutionary answers. I am won over.”
“I have been a registered Republican since moving to the area but you have my vote. I look forward to hearing more of your views.”
Mike spoke last night at a Green Party forum focused on North Carolina’s hideous ballot access laws (and other issues), and I noted this morning that a GP activist posted this to a Green list:
As we witnessed last night with Mike Munger, the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, we will have more in common with Libertarian values than we do with either the Dems or Repubs, this election cycle. Mr. Munger would support a tax bailout for mortgage holders and NOT for lenders. He also supports a very constitutional interpretation of individual liberties and responsibilities. This election cycle I will vote Lib to support them in ballot access and because of his thoughtful application of policy during these times.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it’s just great that Mike can reach out to Greens and enlist them, even in a temporary effort – remember, Mike worked for the Reagan adminstration. Two, people hear pretty much what they want to hear (postive or negative) – Mike did not actually “support a tax bailout for mortgage holders” – what he said was “No bailout.” But he also said “[I]f we were going to spend the money, than we should at least spend it on real folks, and not financial elites”. You see what the progressive activist made of that. I think this must be a near-universal tendency. We make up our minds who we like and then we reshape their message to what we want to hear, to at least some extent. This is an important lessons for folks running campaigns, I think.
Not all – or perhaps even most – of these folks will abandon their political roots to join the Libertarian Party or relabel themselves as ‘libertarian’. But some will. They are, in my opinion, more likely than not to come from the ‘left’ than the ‘right’ – but some of that perception is based on my own experience (I was a Democrat, which might surprise some folks). But whether they come from the left or the right, some (small, perhaps, but significant) percentage of people who vote Libertarian this November will be politically changed by this election. The votes of everyone are important for short-term reasons (ballot access, issue advocacy, etc), but the politically changed people are the real gold of the campaign in my opinion. Those folks are the activists we need to be developing, teaching, and encouraging; they will be the next generation of Libertarian Party activists. And those of us who experienced a similar excitement and change at hearing the libertarian message years ago need to be the ones delivering that education, support, and encouragement.