PETERSEN: Can Trump Actually Appeal to Libertarian Voters?

by | May 2, 2024 | Opinion

Do Donald Trump and the Libertarian Party have the same enemies? “Absolutely,” says Angela McCardle, the Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “My loyalty has to be to the Libertarian Party … but Donald Trump is a much better person and president than Joe Biden.”

McCardle’s thoughts are likely shared by a good percentage of Libertarian Party members, who will get to hear directly from President Trump when he speaks at the nominating convention for their opposing presidential candidate, which will happen over Memorial Day in Washington D.C.

That should be somewhat awkward for the opposing candidates, who are sure to be overshadowed by the larger than life Trump, especially at a time when all eyes should be on them and not their competitors. But McCardle believes that they should benefit from the media attention that Trump would provide, and notes that Biden was also invited, and if he did arrive she would help him up onto the stage and “give him some ice cream” if he needs it. Cute, but doesn’t this have the possibility of backfiring? Couldn’t Trump convince many of the delegates at the Libertarian National Convention to vote for him instead of the actual candidates they are putting forward that weekend? “Come and take it,” is McCardle’s response.

Trump is certain to do so. The current crop of LP candidates may not be a basket of deplorables, but they tend to run the gamut from weird to weirder. From not ready for prime time to… please for the love of all that is holy in the world don’t let the American people see that and associate it with libertarianism. And some, I assume are good people. I’m a former Libertarian Party presidential candidate myself, so if I’m weirded out.. the normies are sure to quail. Hopefully everyone keeps their clothes on this time around.

McCardle acknowledges that this is a media ploy, but for Trump it may be life or death. Independent voters will be the key to victory for him, and his play to speak to the attendees is more to his benefit than it is to the LP. In the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party candidate, secured approximately 1.9 million votes, which represented about 1.2% of the national total​. This was a decrease from the Libertarian Party’s performance in the 2016 election, where they achieved around 3.3% of the vote with their candidate Gary Johnson​.

Based on this historical voting data, if Donald Trump were to appeal to Libertarian voters in the upcoming 2024 election, the potential number of votes he might attract from this group could be substantial but would likely be less than 2% of the national total, assuming all those who previously voted Libertarian switch their allegiance to him.

The 2024 election will come down to the votes in 7 key battleground states. In the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen garnered varying levels of support across key battleground states, which might offer insight into the potential votes Donald Trump could attract from Libertarian voters in these areas for the 2024 election:

  • Georgia: Jorgensen received 62,229 votes, which was about 1.2% of the total votes in the state​ 
  • Pennsylvania: She secured 79,380 votes, approximately 1.15% of the state’s total votes​ 
  • Arizona: Libertarian votes totaled 51,465, about 1.5% of the state’s votes​ 
  • Michigan: Jorgensen received 60,381 votes, roughly 1.1% of the total votes in Michigan​ 
  • North Carolina: She garnered 48,678 votes, accounting for 1.18% of the votes​ 
  • Wisconsin: Here, she received 38,491 votes, around 1.17% of the total votes​ 

These figures reflect a relatively small but potentially significant fraction of the electorate in each state, particularly in tight races. If Trump were to appeal to Libertarian voters, capturing a portion of this base could be crucial in swing states where margins of victory can be slim. However, whether Libertarian voters would swing to Trump would depend on the alignment of his policies with Libertarian values and the alternatives presented by other candidates in the race.

So the ultimate question is, can Trump actually appeal to those libertarian voters? McCardle admits it’s a tall order, and that even many right-leaning libertarians have “TDS,” or Trump Derangement Syndrome. “Trump promised to audit the fed,” McCardle notes, and he failed to follow through. Issues like the pardon of Julian Assange, Operation Warp Speed, and other deviations from libertarian orthodoxy may make Trump’s plea to the LP a tough sell. But if Trump is known for anything, it’s the Art of the Deal. If Trump’s speechwriter is savvy, and he appeals to the issues that libertarians and Libertarian Party members care about, he may yet sway some of their votes.

But what would that mean for the LP presidential candidate, or for the LP itself. The former is fairly obvious, it will mean a total humiliation for the candidate, as their own party rejects them for Trump. The last time a Libertarian Party (LP) presidential candidate finished fourth in the general election while the third place went to another third party or independent candidate was in 1992. In that election, the LP candidate Andre Marrou finished fourth with about 0.3% of the popular vote, while independent candidate Ross Perot secured third place with a significant 18.9% of the vote. This situation reflects a unique electoral dynamic where a non-mainstream candidate (Perot) managed to capture a substantial portion of the electorate, overshadowing the LP’s performance.

If Robert F. Kennedy Jr keeps a decent bit of momentum, he could likely outperform the LP candidate, an ignominious result especially considering the current ruling faction within the LP came to power based on the promises of higher vote totals than 2016 candidate Gary Johnson. Looking at this potential future, many Libertarian Party delegates may be weighing the reality staring them in the face… a face with a slightly orange hue.

The Libertarian Party’s convention will take place May 23rd, at the Hilton in Washington D.C.

Interview with McCardle begins at timecode 1:31:01 below.

Austin Petersen is a former Libertarian presidential candidate turned Republican and the host of the Wake Up America show every Monday-Friday from 7-9am central which you can stream live on Rumble, or listen to on Spotify or iTunes. He resides in Jefferson City, Missouri with his wife Stephanie and their two presidential French Bulldogs, Calvin and George.

NEXT: Petersen: Javier Milei Stands as a Beacon of Hope for Economic Freedom and Traditional Values

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