Libertarian party is moderate.

A survey by David Kirby and David Boaz found a minimum of 14 percent American voters to have libertarian-leaning views.[69][70]


It's fiscally conservative. It doesn't run others' people business.

It's most compatible with free market and capitalism which most people are used to.

Yet, it didn't get much seats.

In presidential election, that would be understandable. You need to win and only the big 2 parties can win. But in parliament election?

We don't have 1% libertarians in most US states (source).

  • 10
    Libertarian party is moderate. That is debatable. On a scale of "free market solves your problems" ←→ "government can be a force for good", they are quite extremely leaning to the free market side.
    – gerrit
    Feb 11, 2018 at 11:38
  • That is not exactly the same questions. The first one ask for approval and another ask for few seats in government. Why it's not the same? Well, one of the reason why libertarians have few seats in government is because of district issue. That doesn't relate to their approval rating whatsoever.
    – user4951
    Feb 16, 2018 at 7:53
  • 1
    @J.Chang approval within districts vs overall approval seems closely related to me.
    – user16214
    Mar 1, 2018 at 16:35

3 Answers 3


Because most (all?) US states vote for individual representatives on a district-by-district basis.

In order to get a person into a state senate or state assembly, that person needs to run in one voting district and gain the majority of votes there. That means an overall 14% approval across the whole nation won't get you any seats when it is evenly distributed over all districts. In order to win seats in the United States, a party needs to concentrate supporters in individual districts.

Also, I doubt that the Libertarian party of the United States even has a 14% voter potential. "Libertarian-leaning views" and "Supporting the Libertarian party" are two different things. Many people make their voting decision on other factors than just which party ideology aligns most with their own.

  • So united states are divided by states and each states are divided by districts. Do each districts have their own local laws?
    – user4951
    Feb 10, 2018 at 14:21
  • 6
    @J.Chang States are divided into counties and counties into municipalities which have some level of autonomy in certain matters. But counties and municipalities don't always map 1:1 to voting districts on state level. If you would like to know more about administrative divisions and voting districts in the United States, please post a new question.
    – Philipp
    Feb 10, 2018 at 14:41
  • 1
    All federal Representatives are in single seat districts as a matter of law. I think we have a question about that somewhere.
    – Brythan
    Feb 10, 2018 at 16:59
  • 1
    Each district does not have its own local laws. But the law across the USA is that the winner in a district congressional race wins a seat in the House for two years. Thus the Libertarian party could end up with 14% support but winning zero seats. I think Libertarian support is more like 3%, but that's a separate issue. Feb 11, 2018 at 2:23
  • 2
    Isn't a plurality (aka relative majority) of votes that's required for a person to win in any particular district, rather than a majority?
    – bdsl
    Feb 11, 2018 at 12:35

One additional factor is the US's dominant election method: first past the post. What this means is that it is simply the candidate with the greatest number of votes who wins each seat, with no option to specify preferences.

It is very difficult for third parties to make any kind of progress in first past the post systems, as few people will be willing to vote for a third party when that means they don't get to express their choice about the more dominant parties. So the third parties rarely get many votes, and they don't gain mindshare. This is called Duverger's law. By contrast, with an election method that allows you to specify preferences there are no downsides to giving your first vote to any party at all. So even when they don't win, third parties do get substantial numbers of first preferences, and they can therefore build in prominence until they manage to win seats.

The US already has a party which many would see as being at least partially aligned with libertarian ideology. With no option to specify preferences, voting for the actual Libertarian party would split the vote making it even less likely that someone who represents their position would be elected.


I read an article related to this subject last year. The big two parties have all the eyes, but it's more complex than that, the road to the big seat (president) starts with the smaller, local elections. So more third party candidates would need to win smaller things like city council (increasing number of eyes), and progress on to bigger positions

  • 2
    How is it necessary to win local elections in order to win the presidency? It's certainly not a legal requirement and you don't make any link between the two. Also, what do you mean by "eyes" in this context? Feb 11, 2018 at 10:41

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