December 2019 Poll Analysis
With a sample size of 319 from all 50 US states, Hornberger swept the Libertarian field in the 2020 Libertarian Presidential Primary, ahead of runner-up Kim Ruff by 5%.
The Torch of Liberty poll ran from December 1st (12/1) through December 26th (12/26).
A Look at the United States
Nationally, Jacob Hornberger won a narrow victory in the poll. Hornberger won 22% of the Libertarian votes, while runner-up Dan Behrman won 19%. Kim Ruff came in third place, with 17% of the votes. A brief look at the breakdown of votes by states reveals a sense of some regionalism to the campaigns. Hornberger won the majority of the southern states, Ruff gained key support in the northwest of the nation, and Behrman won the majority of the states in New England. That said, broad statements do not represent the poll and its complexities well.
In the poll, Jacob Hornberger won 10 (+4) states, Kim Ruff won 8 (+4). Behrman, in third, won 6 (+3) states. States won and total percentages do not tell the whole story, however. In terms of delegate counts the break down is as follows for each candidate based on polling responses:
- Jacob Hornberger: 234 (22%)
- Kim Ruff: 207 (20%)
- Dan Behrman: 182 (18%)
- Souraya Faas: 80 (8%)
- Adam Kokesh: 78 (8%)
- Sam Robb: 68 (7%)
- NOTA: 67 (6%)
- Max Abramson: 45 (4%)
- Vermin Supreme: 38 (3%)
- John McAfee: 16 (1%)
- Ben Leder: 13 (1%)
- Ken Armstrong: 12 (1%)
- Arvin Vohra: 6 (1%)
Note: All percents are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Hornberger, who annouced his candidacy in early November of 2019 (receiving 5% in last months poll), has pulled to the top of the libertarian field, according to the sample size of 319 in this months poll. Why has Hornberger found support in such a cluttered field? Hornberger has cut into several candidates support bases, according to polling. Hornberger has taken support away from Abramson, fellow Constitutional-Conservative voice in the race, pulling key support in New Hampshire that allowed Behrman to win a plurality and coming in a tie with him in formerly Abramson-held Missouri. Furthermore, Hornberger cut into the formerly Ruff dominated southeast, leading to a NOTA plurality in Georgia, winning formerly Ruff-held states of Alabama and Louisiana, and coming to a tie with Ruff in Virginia. Behrman's campaign seems to have taken a hit as well, narrowly losing his hold on California and Massachusetts to Hornberger.
While this builds the evidence for an attraction of Libertarian voters to Hornberger, the question still remains: why? A few options are open, however, one seems the most plausible. Jacob Hornberger has had a long career in liberty and has worked with Ron Paul, even appearing on his show The Liberty Report. Furthermore, Hornberger formerly ran in 2000 for the nomination and in 2002 for senate. After such a chaotic campaign season with the Johnson/Weld ticket in 2016, following the relative success of Ron Paul in the 2012 primary against Mitt Romney, many in the liberty movement are looking for a new Ron Paul. Hornberger, by all appearances, offers this voice within the party.
There are two key swing states, according to polling. They are Wisconsin and Indiana, where Hornberger, Ruff, and Behrman have all tied. The question is then raised: why these three candidates? It seems that all three have very unique appeals to their campaigns. Hornberger has the 'Ron Paul' card, as previously discussed, whereas Ruff has a grassroots-constitutional appeal while Behrman has a grassroots-libertarian core appeal. Kim Ruff's campaign has an emphasis on reducing executive power through returning to constitutional principles, whereas Behrman's campaign wants to undermine executive (and legislative) power by focusing on the power of the purse and his key campaign message, taxation is theft.
With a broad brush stroke, these three candidates encompass the party fairly well. Hornberger represents the center-right Ron Paul and Gary Johnson constitutional libertarians, and importantly the fiscal libertarians. Kim Ruff represents the 'classical liberal' libertarian thought, while Dan Behrman appeals to the minarchists within the party: elimination of taxation and as much government as possible.
According to polling, some campaigns are struggling to go national. For example, Souraya Faas received 54% of her support from Florida. Beyond support in Florida, the Faas campaign is relatively contained in the east, winning states such as Maryland and Rhode Island, as well as the District of Columbia. Although winning North Dakota, throughout the rest of the nation Faas remains polling relatively low in major states across the midwest and west coast.
Likewise, Sam Robb received 42% of his support from Pennsylvania. Robb has consistently polled the highest among Republican respondents to the poll. With their support included, Robb beat Hornberger by over 3%. However, Libertarian voters are still receptive to his campaign (often polling fourth in key states such as Iowa, and third in New York), however, outside of Pennsylvania, the majority of his support comes from the southwest. Robb won New Mexico and Oklahoma, but hasn't reached a plurality of Libertarian voters in Iowa, where he is polling at 8%; New York, where he is polling at 13% (behind Behrman's 27% and Ruff's 20%); and Texas, where he is polling at 5%.