Brink Lindsey revisits the “liberaltarians” debate over at TNR. I think most of the points made against his thesis by Jonathan Chait from the left and John Tabin from the right still stand, but I’d nevertheless like to quibble with one minor detail of Lindsey’s political analysis.
Lindsey writes, “According to data analyzed by David Boaz and David Kirby, Democratic House and Senate candidates in 2006 did 24 percentage points better with libertarian-leaning voters than they did in the midterm elections of 2002… So much for the idea that gaining ground with libertarians is doomed to be a net vote loser.”
But the “libertarian” vote shift toward the Democrats actually occured in 2004, when the rest of the electorate swung the other way. Democrats don’t seem to have gained any new ground among libertarians in the last two years, though they gained plenty with other voters. So I’m not sure there was some successful appeal to libertarians that failed to offend nonlibertarians. The data doesn’t seem to show one.