Libertarian Party Gains in Iowa, Plans on Future Growth


Isaiah Steele

The Libertarian party is now considered a major party in the state of Iowa.

Isaiah Steele, Site manager

Following the midterm elections held this November, many assessments were made about the state of our nation and where it is headed politically. Although some predicted a “red wave” in the weeks leading up to the election, they were left disappointed, with few predicting the growth of the libertarian party in the state of Iowa.


After applying for major party status and surpassing the 2% vote threshold, The Libertarian party is now considered a full-fledged political party in Iowa alongside the Republican and Democratic parties. This change allows voters to register as Libertarian and the party to hold its own primary elections.

Photo credit to Isaiah Steele.

This status is not a first for the Libertarian party though. After the 2016 election, when Libertarian

 presidential candidate Gary Johnsonreceived 3.8% of the vote, the party held major party status. But when the party failed to garner 2% of Iowa votes in 2018, Libertarians lost their major party status.


Iowa Libertarian Party Chair Jules Cutler is confident that 2024 will not be a repeat of 2018, citing a growing gap between the other two major parties, “Those extremes become more and more extreme every year and I think that people who are middle of the road are looking for a home and we welcome them.”


PVHS government teacher Trevor Zahn echoes Cutler’s sentiment. “In terms of the growth of the Libertarian party, I would say you can probably track it back to the 2016 election,” he said. “The Libertarian party took advantage of the situation in which a lot of people were dissatisfied with the mainstream Republican and Democratic options and really sold the ‘you can consider a third option too’ concept at the time and more people were willing to consider a third-party option as opposed to the traditional two-party system.”


Although Libertarians only hold 2% of the vote, Libertarians consider it a win, and a good foothold toward growth. This year’s Libertarian candidate for Iowa governor Rick Stewart said, “We don’t feel like we lost. . . We are going to recruit more active libertarians…we’re going to have a lot more door knockers, a lot more telephone callers, a lot more letters written to the editor, all that kind of energy that comes from being a major party. That’s ours to carry forward.”


Stewart’s remarks are supported by numbers that Zahn cited: “The number of registered Libertarians has actually increased by 92% in the past 10 years while Democrats (-8%) and Republicans (-5%) have seen a slight downturn in popularity as more people drift towards the middle and are more likely to identify as ‘Independent’ than ever before.”


Stewart’s and Cutler’s optimism will be put to the test during the 2024 presidential election. If the Libertarian party continues to grow, it will become a major factor in future election outcomes. However, the only way for the Libertarian Party to grow is to take votes away from the major parties currently in a stalemate for the heart of the nation.