Can Libertarians Carry Romney to Victory

Stephen Green, a friend and excellent writer, penned a piece at VodkaPundit today called The Libertarian Case for Mitt Romney that spawned a conversation, some thought and this article.

Read Stephen’s piece for the politics of libertarians (and Libertarians) supporting Mitt Romney as he sets forth some very thought provoking issues. What we’re going to look at here is what effect the libertarian vote could have on a possible Romney victory.

Right up front, there is very little empirical data available from any recent polls so the analyses, charts and narrative here are based on reasonable mathematical guesstimates. Please see the Author’s Note below for the assumptions used to form the numbers used herein.

It’s impossible to tell how many libertarians are already committed to Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, but I estimate that there are 1.9% undecided or Gary Johnson supporting libertarians nationally and 2.1% of the same in the eight swing states I track (see Map 2012).

Looking at the national popular vote, using the raw unweighted and my weighted averages, it’s clear that a majority of the undecided libertarians or votes that moved from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney could have some meaningful impact.

All graphs show the net Undecideds exclusive of the projected libertarians.

Using the raw data from national polls taken in the last ten days, Obama has a 3.4% lead. The libertarian vote could cover more than half that spread but with virtually 100% support. However, looking at a more accurate, in my opinion, weighted dataset from the same polls, Obama only has a 1.3% lead or two-thirds the available libertarian vote.

More importantly, a large number of states can already be called and their Electoral College votes assigned, so the critical swing state analysis is even more compelling. I believe there are only eight true swing states and the percentage of available libertarian votes in those states is 2.1%. Again looking at raw and weighted averages from the last ten days in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin we can see the potential for the libertarian vote to have serious impact.

With the unweighted averages, Obama has a 4.8% lead and while the libertarian vote could cut into that it is not enough by itself to propel Romney to a victory. Here again though, using a more accurate weighted average in the swing states, Obama has a 1.1% lead which is barely 50% of the available libertarian vote.

It is important to note that these analyses do not reflect the possibility of libertarians already committed to either candidate switching their allegiance. A strong movement in either direction within this group could be significant but is virtually impossible to measure given the lack of available data.

So, mathematically speaking, the answer to the question asked in the title is YES, the libertarian vote could carry Romney to victory in November, but it would take a large percentage of the available vote. In that I’m a numbers guy, I’ve done my job proving that libertarians could be meaningful for Governor Romney.

The politics of why libertarians should support the Governor I leave to my friend, Stephen. Cheers!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The numbers used are for projected libertarians and not Libertarian Party members only. The 1.9% national and 2.1% swing state numbers are based on analyzing a large group of polls conducted at the national and state level in the last ten days.

A few polls actually included Gary Johnson in their questions but most didn’t so I used the percentages of respondents who answered Other or Neither when asked if they would vote for Obama or Romney. Notably answers of Not Sure or Undecided were not included in the sample. The graphs reflect the net Undecideds after subtracting the estimated libertarian voters.

I would estimate the level of accuracy to be +/- 10% based on this methodology so the actual numbers could be between 1.7% and 2.1% nationally, and 1.9% and 2.3% in the swing states.

About Tom Dougherty

Political data expert and small biz owner. I detest apathy, ignorance & sloth and respect personal accountability & responsibility.
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