Where are America’s libertarians? In the west, for the most part, with New Hampshire serving as a lone outpost of libertarianism to the east of the Mississippi.
That’s according to an analysis by Free State Project Jason Sorens. Here’s how he broke down the numbers, though I’m not sure I buy into the idea of using Ron Paul support as a proxy for libertarianism.
To see which states have the most libertarians, I use six measures: Libertarian Party presidential vote share in 2008 and 2012, Ron Paul contributions as a share of personal income in 2007-8, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson contributions as a share of income in 2011-12, and “adjusted” Ron Paul primary vote share in 2008 and 2012. Ron Paul vote shares are adjusted for primary vs. caucus, calendar, number of other candidates, and the like (for details see this post). Hawaii and Wyoming are excluded because they did not collect vote shares in the 2008 presidential primary. D.C. is included.
As Sorens admits, this methodology ends up with Montana and New Mexico overstated in the rankings. The former because Ron Paul was on the general election ballot there in 2008, the latter because it was 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s home state.
Anyway, below are the full rankings, where North Dakota comes in with the 11th highest concentration of libertarians as Sorens is measuring them.
I’m surprised that North Dakota ranks so high. Ours is a deeply populist state, though we do have an active Libertarian Party in the state maintaining a consistent ballot presence, and there is an active libertarian contingent within the North Dakota Republican Party as well.
Still, the larger message here is that libertarianism (again, as Sorens is measuring it) is a pretty marginal ideology even in top-ranked states. Testifying to that is the disclaimer on Sorens’ analysis which is that this is measuring concentrations of politically-active libertarians, not states with libertarian policies.
I don’t think anyone could fairly think of North Dakota, with the nation’s only state-owned bank and grain mill, as libertarian.
New Hampshire 4.163368
New Mexico 3.319092
North Dakota 0.7316829
South Dakota 0.0328709
Rhode Island -0.470931
North Carolina -0.811959
South Carolina -0.8196676
District of Columbia -1.091851
New York -1.225912
New Jersey -1.431843
West Virginia -2.244921