The election was close, but there are number of snags in the ‘third-party votes walk it’ case – not least the assumption that Clinton was a clear 2nd choice


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Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson acquired over 3% that the renowned vote, with most of the ballots currently counted. Photograph: mark Kauzlarich/Reuters
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson gained over 3% of the renowned vote, with many of the ballots now counted. Photograph: mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

Two outcomes from the us presidential choice seem hard to reconcile. Donald Trump won the presidency after obtaining what seems most likely to it is in 306 the the 538 electoral university votes available. Hillary Clinton looks collection to victory the well-known vote by a fraction of a percentage point.

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That distinction is because of the way that votes are dispersed in the electoral college system. But another potential explanation has actually been offered: possibly third-party candidates price Clinton dear.


Nationally, third-party candidates did fairly well in this election. With most of the ballots currently counted, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got over 3% that the popular vote, and the eco-friendly party’s Jill Stein gained 1%. Altogether, candidates who did not stand for either of the two main parties got approximately 4.9% of the famous vote (in 2012, third-party candidates only controlled 1.7%, and also in 2008, 1.4%).

It’s basic to watch why people allude the finger in ~ third-party votes. In Michigan, whereby the election was for this reason close the the linked Press still hasn’t referred to as the result, trumped is front by about 12,000 votes. That’s substantially less 보다 the 242,867 votes that checked out third-party candidates in Michigan. It’s a similar story elsewhere: third-party candidates won more total votes than the Trump’s margin of win in Wisconsin, Arizona, north Carolina and Florida. Without those states, Trump would certainly not have won the presidency.


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But there are a pair of snags to the “third-party votes walk it” argument. Firstly, it assumes the a lot of voters’ second choice to be Clinton. There’s tiny evidence that was true. Many polls – which, it turns out were deeply fault – merely asked: “Who would you poll for if the election were held today?” seldom was there a follow-up concern of: “And that would you poll for if friend didn’t vote for that candidate?”

There are three various other possibilities besides choosing Clinton as a 2nd choice candidate:

1. Those voters might have liked a various third-party candidate. For example, Johnson voters can have switched to Stein, or evil versa. If so, that would have had actually no result on Trump’s possibilities of winning.

2. Those voters might have liked to stay at house rather 보다 vote for someone who wasn’t their first choice. If so, castle again i will not ~ have changed Trump’s success over Clinton – except to do it even larger together a share of all votes cast.

3. Those voters might have liked Trump as their second-choice candidate. If so, lock not just would have actually secured Trump as the winner that the national popular vote, they could have likewise bumped increase his electoral university votes by claiming democratic states like Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado and new Hampshire, whereby Clinton won by a smaller number of votes 보다 those cast for third-party candidates.

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In reality, the some mix of all of the above. Some third-party voters might have preferred to continue to be at home, some could have voted for Clinton, and some for Trump. (People don’t act in perfect herds. If pollsters had much better understood that, maybe they i will not ~ have gained this election so bad wrong.)

Except the third-party voters didn’t do any kind of of those things. They placed their crosses against the surname of a candidate they virtually certainly knew would certainly not end up being their next president. Which suggests a stamin of emotion that provides all hypothetical “what ifs” a small redundant.