From What Happened to the ‘Libertarian Moment’? by Henry Olsen in National Review
Now it is true that the Republican party is overwhelmingly conservative and that most conservatives oppose high taxes and government direction of society. Polls have shown for decades that Republicans of all stripes believe that the government is doing too much that would be better left to business or voluntary charity. But being opposed to passing something new does not necessarily mean you are also in favor of repealing or modifying something old. And it is when you examine the depth of that sentiment that you find how shallow the commitment to small government is among GOP voters.
In our book The Four Faces of the Republican Party (2016), University of New Hampshire professor Dante Scala and I looked at 20 years of exit-poll data to discern what Republicans believed. We found that at most one in six could be called liberty-minded conservatives, people who wanted both smaller government and lower taxes and made that their principal priority. These voters, whom we called “very conservative seculars,” were the smallest of the GOP’s four factions and had been since at least 1996, when our data series began. Their favorites for the nomination, candidates such as Steve Forbes and Fred Thompson, always lost, and usually quite early, as the favorites of the other GOP factions trounced them in the early states, where momentum is built.
The political parties are a coalition of ideas priorities designed to win elections. The harsh reality is that liberty minded voters are in a minority in the Republican Party. They remain there only because they are nonexistent in the Democratic Party.
The only chance this minority has is to bond with others to gain power. Reagan won because the evangelical movement was motivated by Roe v Wade and united with the Laffer supply siders to form a winning coalition, even though they were not mutually supportive.
Libertarian third party efforts fail consistently because they refuse to address this reality. Without a coalition partner, as odious as they may be, they will remain a minority.