Whenever I write about immigration from Latin America, I am deluged with complaints that regardless of the economic or social benefits, Latinos are anti-libertarian “socialists.” But a new Fox News Latino poll shows something else. The libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson does nearly twice as well among Latino Americans as among the general public—16 percent compared to 8 percent.
Far from being socialists, a wide range of evidence shows that on average, Latino views track libertarian views as closely as any other demographic. This is not to say that Latinos are libertarians overall, but that they are just as open to the libertarian perspective as anyone else.
As my colleague Emily Ekins has pointed out, libertarians are more racially and ethnically diverse than some people believe. Pew also found in 2014 that just as many Latinos identify as libertarian and understand it as a “belief in limited government” as all Americans (11 percent for both). In 2015, Ekins found that averaging nine polls conducted by Reason-Rupe and Cato-YouGov, Latinos make up 14 percent of self-identified libertarians, while being 13 percent of the U.S. population.
Given that Latinos are already least likely to identify as a Democrat or Republican, Latinos’ disproportionate support for a libertarian option in this election makes sense. Currently, they are stuck between a party led by a president who has deported more of their relatives than any other and one led by a candidate who thinks that wasn’t good enough. By contrast, Johnson has adopted the most pro-immigration position of any in this election—not only favoring legalization for those already here but also open legal immigration in the future with Mexico—and he mentions the issue in every television interview.
But Latinos are open to the libertarian option because they side with libertarians on a variety other issues as well.