North Dakota Is America's 11th Most Libertarian State


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.

Montana 5.504036
New Hampshire 4.163368
Alaska 3.586032
New Mexico 3.319092
Idaho 2.842685
Nevada 2.477748
Texas 1.632528
Washington 1.568113
Oregon 1.180586
Arizona 1.0411
North Dakota 0.7316829
Indiana 0.6056806
California 0.5187439
Vermont 0.4731389
Utah 0.2056809
Colorado 0.1532149
Kansas 0.107657
South Dakota 0.0328709
Maine -0.0850015
Pennsylvania -0.2063729
Iowa -0.3226413
Georgia -0.3296589
Virginia -0.3893113
Maryland -0.4288172
Rhode Island -0.470931
Tennessee -0.4882021
Missouri -0.4912609
Arkansas -0.5384682
Louisiana -0.5897537
Nebraska -0.6350928
Minnesota -0.7662109
Michigan -0.7671053
North Carolina -0.811959
South Carolina -0.8196676
Illinois -0.9103957
Ohio -0.9599612
Delaware -1.057948
Florida -1.072601
District of Columbia -1.091851
New York -1.225912
Kentucky -1.330388
Massachusetts -1.342607
Wisconsin -1.410286
New Jersey -1.431843
Connecticut -1.606663
Alabama -1.863769
Oklahoma -1.93511
West Virginia -2.244921
Mississippi -2.519249