A Survey of OB Advocates

Late last month I conducted an informal polling of the Open Border’s Action Group (OBAG) membership. As we begin to move forward in advocating for open borders I thought it useful to get an idea of who composes our ranks. That way we know which demographic groups we need to target more.

Respondents were all relatively young with an average age of 28. A large portion of OBAG members, 45 percent over all, were foreigners. Open Borders: The Case has members from across the globe so a foreigner was defined as someone who resides somewhere else than their country of birth.

Select Demographics of OBAG Members:

Political Affiliation Identified as Christian Foreign-born  Average Age
  # % # % # %
Libertarian 25 66% 8 21% 12 32%                  29
Progressive (Center-Left) 8 21% 0 0% 3 8%                  27
Socialist 2 5% 0 0% 0 0%                  19
Moderate 2 5% 1 3% 2 5%                  36
None of the above 1 3%
Total 38 100% 9 24% 17 45%                 28

A clear majority, 66 percent, of respondents identified as libertarians. This is unsurprising as many of the site’s early writers were libertarians. We occasionally get linked to by moderate and center-left publications, but a significant portion of our traffic still comes from libertarian affiliated websites. The second largest sub-group was composed of progressives and others in the center-left. Moderates are a minority, but I am not too worried about that. Open Borders is not widely discussed in the mainstream and so we should not be surprised to see few moderates among us.

What is surprising is that no one identified as a conservative. There is slightly depressing as we often write about why conservatives should favor open borders. See my co-bloggers Nathan Smith and John Lee. One possibility for the absence of conservative respondents is that conservatives who embrace the idea of open borders end up embracing other free market positions and end up identifying as libertarians instead.

When asked for their religious affiliation, most respondents selected ‘None’. When the question is broken down by political affiliation though we see that a significant minority of libertarians identify as Christians. This is similar to an old report by the Brookings Institute that found libertarians had a sizable Christian sub-component (see pg 14). Progressives on the other hand had no Christians. No one identified as a Jew, Muslim, or Buddhist. A few identified as ‘Other’.

I suspect that this sub-group, Christian-libertarians, is where the missing conservatives are. Conservatives may embrace free market positions when they switch over to the libertarian ship, but many retain their views on social issues. Christian-libertarians make 21 percent of all respondents, which makes me hopeful about the possibility of reaching out to the wider conservative base.

The poll was of course informal and had a low response rate. However I am confident it is fairly representative of Open Borders advocates. Our readership likely differs. In the future we may wish to conduct a more comprehensive survey, preferably during Open Borders Day or during one of our meet ups. Other surveys may also wish to include questions to gauge respondent’s attitudes towards open borders.

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Michelangelo Landgrave is an economics graduate student at California State University, Long Beach.

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