BY BRIAN MCLAUGHLIN
TLI Managing Editor
It’s not supposed to work like this.
It took 14 years for the Libertarian Party of Florida to hit the 10,000 registered voters mark in 2001, then a little more than a decade longer to hit 20,000 at the end of 2012.
Things are speeding up a bit, as the LPF hit the 30,000 mark this spring – nearly 32,000, to be exact.
In what is usually considered the political doldrum period of the election cycle – the time immediately following a Presidential election – the LPF grew by 12 percent in just seven months. That’s right … since the November elections, the LPF has grown 12 percent while other parties hardly budged or declined.
The reason? It could be tied to the Florida Department of Elections dismantling the Independent (INT) and Independence (IDF) parties this spring. Some have wondered if voters were confused by these two parties, thinking it was more like an NPA registration than an actual party. Regardless, more than 300,000 Floridian voters were left homeless after those moves this spring.
Regardless of the reason for the recent spike, it’s certainly a positive sign for Florida’s third-largest political party. With 31,631 registered Libertarians as of the May 2017 count, the LPF is well ahead of the fourth-place Green Party (6,605 voters) and others.
“It’s a very exciting moment for the LP,” said Marcos Miralles, Chairman of the LPF. “I think that our organization and our creation of leaders throughout the state will continue to grow the movement. The sooner we recruit candidates for local seats, the faster we can push for membership through the candidates’ campaigns. It’s a win for the Libertarian Party and a win for the citizens of Florida.”
There are other interesting trends to consider. From the pre-election tally in 2006 to the pre-election formal count in 2016, the Libertarian Party of Florida has grown 82 percent when it comes to registered voters, while the Republicans and Democrats both were at 15 percent – while the overall total of voters grew 23 percent.
Oh, and NPAs grew 57 percent during that same period. Conclusion? The pool of registered voters in Florida is growing, while the list of duopoly voters isn’t keeping pace – while the “outlier” voter totals are shooting upwards over the past decade or so.
If this trend continued at the 2006-2016 pace, the LPF would be near 60,000 registered voters in the next decade – and the recent growth has actually been much more rapid.
Florida’s Libertarian Party first held a state convention in 1973 in Orlando and continued holding them until the mid 1980s when the party was dissolved by the state. In 1987, the LP was rejuvenated and the second push really got rolling in the 1992 election season when six Libertarians ran for State House down ballot from Presidential nominee Andre Marrou. Since then, more than 100 Libertarian candidates have run for state office and countless others have run in non-partisan races at the city and county level.