I’ve had a number of posts on libertarian views of the Democrats and Republicans, including posts on libertarians supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Kos notes an interesting item in a Pew Research Center study which looks at it from the opposite direction. The overall survey looks at views on capitalism and socialism, but one question looks at how Democrats and Republicans view libertarians:
Reactions to the word “libertarian” are evenly divided — 38% positive, 37% negative. On balance, Republicans view “libertarian” negatively, Democrats are divided, while independents have a positive impression of the term…
More than four-in-ten independents (44%) react positively to the word “libertarian,” while 32% have a negative reaction. Democrats are nearly evenly divided (39% positive, 37% negative). However, Republicans on balance have a negative impression of this term (44% negative, 31% positive).
I agree with Kos that it is not surprising that Republicans have a more negative view of the word “libertarian” than Democrats do. He writes:
The notion that Republicans are libertarian is ludicrous. They stick their noses into our bedrooms, into our doctors’ offices, into churches. They demand the roundup of people who don’t look like them. They whine about Miranda rights and due process. They are more concerned about the rights of big energy conglomerates, than they are about the rights of people to enjoy long walks on pristine beaches. They whine about true independent and free media that doesn’t validate their ideology. They freak out about anyone who doesn’t believe in their god, or worse, in any god at all.
For the American Taliban, “liberty” means their ability to impose their beliefs and lifestyle on the rest of society.
So of course they would react negatively to the word, since they equate it with libertinism. For a movement predicated on imposing its mores on the rest of society, this is obviously deeply offensive.
I agree that for the most part the negative impression of “libertarian” is due to the authoritarian nature of the current conservative movement and Republican Party. There might also be an additional factor. While it makes little sense, many libertarians have seen the Republican Party as being closer to their views and have attempted to influence the party. This may have resulted in more conflicts between individual Republicans and libertarians, making some Republicans more likely to express a negative opinion of them as a result of such conflict along with their fundamental difference in views.