MIT’s Libertarians

23 percent of students identify as libertarians

3534 libertarian
Infographic: Aislyn Schalck

Last October, The Tech surveyed the undergraduate and graduate population about their political views, and 2,145, or 20 percent of the total student population, responded. We promised to provide follow-up analysis after our original overview in the November 2, 2010 issue of The Tech. Some readers wrote in and requested a breakdown of specific survey questions. Here, we take a look at how students responded when asked if they consider themselves libertarians.

Interestingly, we found that MIT has a surprisingly strong libertarian streak — 498 people, or about 23 percent of respondents, said that they did consider themselves to be a libertarian. Of those, 35 percent said the Libertarian Party best reflects their views, and 23 percent said the Democratic Party best reflects their views. Only 30 self-identified libertarians, a mere six percent, felt the Tea Party best represented their views. That was only slightly less than the Republican Party, which captured 9 percent of self-identified Libertarians.

A plurality of those who said that they considered themselves to be libertarians called their overall political views “moderate” — about 38 percent. But more libertarians said their overall political view were liberal than those who said conservative. When asked about fiscal views, the results were reversed. Only 85 libertarians said they were fiscally “liberal” or “very liberal,” while 296 said they were “conservative” or “very conservative.” Asked about social views, a whopping 335 of the 498 total libertarian respondents — 67 percent — were either “liberal” or “very liberal.”

Also, male libertarians far outnumbered female libertarians — 323 to 169, or nearly 2-to-1. But the graduate to undergraduate libertarian ratio was almost exactly 1-to-1.

There’s still lots of data for us to take a look at. Keep a eye out in the coming weeks for more survey analysis.