Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why Do the Republicans Think That the Liberterian Vote Belongs To Them?

After a race so close in 2000 that the Supreme Court had to hand the victory, inexplicably, to Bush many Democrats began to look askance at Ralph Nader. His shaving off of the ultra-left fringes of the party, they assumed, accounted for enough lost votes on the Democrat's side to have caused this loss. This might be true and it's very likely that these voters, if forced to choose between Gore and Bush would have chosen Gore. But everyone forgets that 1) all left votes don't belong to anybody and 2) it's equally likely that these ultra-left voters would have stayed home as come out and vote for Gore. They knew that they were throwing their votes away with these symbolic votes for a candidate with no chance. Today third party voters in a presidential election know that.

Now, in looking for anyone to blame but themselves, Republican's are trying to similarly lay the blame at the feet of the Libertarians. I dismissed the first report of this that I saw assuming that it was just some lonely loon shouting in the wind but this claim seems to be gathering some momentum. One stat that they like to point to is that Claire McCaskill (D) beat Jim Talent (R) in Missouri by 41,000 votes and the Libertarians in this state cast 47,000 votes for their candidate. This is even sillier than the Dems blaming Nader for losing the election for Gore. Libertarians are a different breed than the ultra-left that Ralphie attracted. They are more likely to vote and are much more engaged in the whole political process. They are also, more importantly, much more centrist in their thinking. They are often described as economically conservative and socially liberal, a position shared by many voters that call themselves independent. Since neither party is economically conservative these days if a Libertarian is going to vote for one of the two parties it seems that they are going to have to choose a democrat. But, unlike the presidential election, third parties actually do have a bit of a chance in Senate and House races. It's slim but it's there. So these all of votes might not have been symbolic throw-aways. Some of them might have been sincere attempts on the voters' parts to put their guy in office.

I'm hoping that the absurdity of these claims is self evident within the reports themselves. For example, in the article that I sited, the writers imply early on that the Libertarians stole the Missourian election from Talent. But they contradict themselves only a few paragraphs down by admitting the stupidity in Iraq has been draining the Libertarian voters away from the Republican party and to the Democrats. In fact, they say, Kerry got 38% of the Libertarian vote in 2004. Plus, if you add to that the fact that because the Republicans have framed the debate over stem-cell research, an issue of major importance in the Missouri race, as an abortion issue they've made it a social question. And how do Libertarians lean socially?

The Republicans lost. They did it all on their own. They should stop looking for someone else to blame. All the Democrats had to do, thankfully, to win this one was show up and not be Republicans.

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