Much talk of late has focused on the rise of libertarians within the Republican Party. As a creed, libertarianism has distinct positions on the role of government, economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy—positions that do not always align with mainstream conservative or Republican opinion. Who are these libertarians, and how do their views compare to the general public, Republicans overall, and key constituencies within the Republican coalition, such as political conservatives, Tea Party members, and evangelicals?
On October 29, the religion, policy and politics project at Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released PRRI’s fourth annual American Values Survey (AVS), a large national, multi-issue survey on religion, values and public policy. This year’s survey takes an in-depth look at libertarians, examining their political and religious profiles and their opinions on a range of economic and social issues. The accompanying research report, authored by PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox, and PRRI Research Associate Juhem Navarro-Rivera, also examines the tensions between the opinions of rank-and-file libertarians and the libertarian creed propounded by the movement’s intellectual leaders. Brookings Senior Fellow William Galston commented on the survey findings, along with Karlyn Bowman (AEI), Brink Lindsey (Cato), and Henry Olsen (Ethics & Public Policy Center).