Libertarians: Don’t call us tea partyers; survey finds blocs often clash

by Valerie Richardson-The Washington Times  |  published on October 30, 2013

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Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, is often described as both a tea party member and a libertarian, but it turns out that most libertarians aren’t tea partyers.

In a surprising finding from one of the most sweeping surveys on the attitudes and beliefs of America’s libertarians, a majority of libertarians — 61 percent — said they did not consider themselves part of the tea party movement, according to the annual American Values Survey released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.

“This new research reveals a libertarian constituency in America that is distinct both from the tea party and from the Christian right,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the institute. “While conventional wisdom has assumed that the tea party movement is fueled by libertarian convictions, most libertarians see themselves as outside of the tea party movement.”

Libertarians, it turns out, are principled but not always easy to pigeonhole: A majority of libertarians support legal marijuana but not gay marriage, they would allow doctor-assisted suicide but wouldn’t raise the minimum wage, and they really, really, really don’t like Obamacare. There also are signs that libertarians are likely to take up a bigger slice of the American political spectrum.

Mr. Jones said the survey this year represents the first time the institute has asked about libertarians, and the timing is spot-on. In some polls ahead of Virginia’s gubernatorial election Tuesday, Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis is supported by a hefty 10 percent of voters, cutting into the base of Republican candidate Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.

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