Libertarians Don’t Identify With Tea Party Thanks To Social Issues

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There’s a little bit of tea party overlap – but not a lot of lockstep agreement – among people who think of themselves as libertarians. Social issues like recreational drug use, gay marriage, abortion and the role of religion in government are the chief reasons why the majority of self-described libertarians say they don’t see eye to eye with the Tea Party movement.

Across the Internet, including on websites like this one, libertarianism and Tea Party conservatism are often conflated by casual outside observers. But a new survey, done by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), finds that 61 percent of libertarians say they don’t identify with the Tea Party.

From the survey synopsis:

The annual look at religion, values and public policy in America from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute finds libertarians make up a smaller portion of the Republican Party than other conservative constituency groups. Twelve percent of self-identified Republicans are libertarian, compared to 20 percent of Republicans who identify with the Tea Party and 33 percent who say they belong to the religious right or conservative Christian movement.

Libertarians are also half as likely as those who identify with the Tea Party movement to say they consider themselves part of the Christian right. Only 1-in-5 (22 percent) libertarians say they belong to the religious right or conservative Christian movement. However, about half (52 percent) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement say they are a part of the Christian right, a connection that has held steady since PRRI began tracking this relationship in 2010.

There’s a lot of agreement between Tea Party conservatives and libertarians on fiscal policy. But the divide widens greatly on “hands-off” personal issues that elicit strong support among conservatives – particularly religious conservatives – for government regulation.

“While libertarians are aligned with other key conservative constituencies on economic issues, they are at odds with other conservative groups on a range of social issues,” said PRRI research director Daniel Cox. “A majority of libertarians oppose making it more difficult for women to obtain an abortion, and strongly support legalizing both marijuana and physician-assisted suicide.”

The survey, which randomly sampled 2,317 adults living in the U.S., interviewed respondents both online and by telephone between Sept. 21 and Oct. 3 of this year.

Read the full report of the 2013 American Values Survey here.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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