Say 0 means libertarian, and 100 means statism.

Say we have a libertarian party. Let's presume there is no voting strategy. So everyone picks the one that makes the most sense to them.

And let's for simplicity sake, presume that the population is evenly distributed.

So 25% pick a libertarian party. The republican will then divide the 75% of the vote. The optimal solution is the twin party republican, and democrat will put their position in 62.5%.

So, without a libertarian party, the party position will be 50%. With the libertarian party, the party positions will be 62.5%. It's more statist.

It's like when Nader shows up pretty much eliminating Al Gore from the presidency.

If libertarians "moderate" their position and try to position itself in 40% statism for example, then the twin party will be in 70% position. So the whole country moves toward statism.

  • 1
    Not sure what the title has to do with what you're talking about. Of course having libertarians makes the US more libertarian. Also libertarians cannot moderate their position anymore because they are ALREADY the moderate position. Generally speaking the more moderate candidate from the left/right will pick up their votes as voting for a libertarian candidate is indeed a waste of votes. As for Nader hurting Al Gore's chances of the presidency, it is completely different as his position is far left which split up the democrat votes. Voting libertarian doesn't split up votes as they are moderate Apr 1, 2019 at 17:28
  • Ah I see. Libertarians prosocial freedom like liberal and pro low taxation like a libertarian.
    – user4951
    Apr 2, 2019 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


Let's presume there is no voting strategy. So everyone picks the one that makes the most sense to them.

But that's not how people actually vote. Libertarian voters are entirely capable of recognizing the issue you propose and choosing to vote for the Republican over the Democrat. This pushes the Republican party to be more libertarian on economic issues (where Republicans are more like libertarians) and moral issues (where Republicans are less like libertarians). And it pushes Democrats the same way, although the similarities are different. There's even a term for this: Duverger's law:

In political science, Duverger's law holds that plurality-rule elections (such as first past the post) structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system

In your model, it's clear that a libertarian party would make the system less libertarian. But that may be because your model doesn't reflect reality particularly well. If you are trying to make a statement about reality rather than one that holds only in your thought experiment, you have to work with realistic measures.

This is also true of Duverger's law. For example, the United Kingdom has plurality (first-past-the-post) voting and single member districts. But it has at least six parties with multiple members elected to parliament. So we have to revise our understanding of Duverger's law so that it only affects parties in each district. So the United States with its national presidential district is restricted by Duverger's law, but the UK without overlapping districts is not as much (although generally only one or two parties are competitive in each district).

And this has a name as well: All models are wrong, but some are useful. Basically, all models are simplifications of reality and therefore at least partially wrong. But a model may still be predictive of reality and therefore useful. In this particular case, Duverger's law seems more predictive of behavior in the US than your model is.

  • So basically you're counting on people being smart enough to vote republican rather than libertarian? That's actually quite an insight
    – user4951
    Apr 2, 2019 at 3:07
  • The question boils down to if you're a libertarian, how should you vote to make US more libertarian. If you vote Republican then Republican will have no interest to make the country more libertarian. You gonna vote Republican anyway. If you vote Libertarian party you may make Democrat win. Republicans are more friendly toward libertarians than Democrat as some answer suggest politics.stackexchange.com/questions/1084/…
    – user4951
    Apr 2, 2019 at 3:20

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