Hot Second: Libertarians the New Political Center

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When Americans were recently polled about their number two choice for President, 43 percent selected Libertarian presidential candidate, as opposed to 9 percent for Bush and 7 percent for Kerry.

Austin, TX -- If the presidential election was held today, only three of one hundred Americans would vote for Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik. But he's the second choice of more than four in 10.

According to a nationwide survey of 1,000 Americans conducted last week by Rasmussen, Democratic challenger John Kerry (D-MA) leads incumbent president George W. Bush by a slim margin of 46-43% -- within the 3% margin of error.

However, when polled on their second choice, 43% chose Badnarik rather than their first choice's main rival.

Badnarik is not surprised. "The American electorate is extremely polarized this year," he says. "And the Libertarian Party arguably constitutes the new center of the debate. The Democrats and Republicans stand at two extremes, characterized by which parts of our lives they emphasize their desire to control. Libertarians reject both extremes in favor of the government leaving control of your life to you."

The Libertarian Party's emphasis on individual liberty and personal responsibility cuts across traditional party lines -- and may prove decisive in this election.

"With Michael Badnarik's candidacy, the Libertarian Party is finally coming into its own right as an arbiter of political power," says campaign manager Fred Collins. "Win or lose, we're now enough of a factor that Republican and Democratic politicians will have to fight us for the swing votes that we control. That's good for liberty, because fighting us for those votes means adopting our agenda."

"Second choices" don't count on election day, but Badnarik's 3% showing covers the margin of error at the poll's middle and his strength in several "battleground" states may determine the election's outcome. Bush and Kerry remain closely matched in New Mexico, Arizona, Ohio and other states. In 2000, Harry Browne's 2,000-odd votes changed the outcome in New Mexico to George W. Bush's detriment (Democrat Al Gore carried the state by about 300 votes). Browne's 16,000 votes in Florida helped throw that state's decision into question.

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party. More than 600 Libertarians serve in public office at the local, state and federal level.

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Stephen Gordon
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