You know the type – after the Democratic primary they were the ultra progressive Bernie Sanders supporters who vowed never to vote for Hillary Clinton. That boisterous group that loudly claimed that they would either vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or, since their conscious would not let them vote for either Clinton or Trump, they would simply stay at home election day. While their numbers shrank, especially in battle ground states, as the polls tightened near election day, they still had a major effect on the election results and may well have cost Hillary the White House.
In each battleground state there were several third party candidates, the most prominent being Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. It is difficult to analyze the votes which went to Gary Johnson because no one knows which of the major party candidates his supporters might have voted for had the Libertarian Party not had a candidate, or if they would have voted at all. The same is true for most of the other 3rd Party candidates. However, we are reasonably sure that those individuals who voted for Jill Stein are very progressive so their choices were probably limited to Stein and Hillary Clinton or not voting. I think it would be interesting to investigate if the results of the election would have been affected if the Stein voters in three of the largest swing states, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (all parts of the former Blue Wall) had they voted for Clinton instead.
However, let me first point out that Hillary won the popular vote and given her strong support in California, when the millions of uncounted votes in that state are added in, her victory in the popular vote will be substantial. According to the New York Times: “By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2 million votes and more than 1.5 percentage points, according to my Times colleague Nate Cohn. She will have won by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000, but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.” And while Trump electoral vote margin appears to be significant – 306 to 232 – it was possible only because of his very narrow victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
You might think that because Jill Stein receive less than 1% of the vote in each of those three states, her votes could not have affected the results, but you would be wrong. Let’s take a close look at the state by state results:
Wisconsin – 10 electoral votes:
Obviously if the Stein voters had voted for Hillary Clinton, Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes would have been added to Hillary’s column and subtracted from Trump’s. In addition, this is not taking into consideration those progressives who were turned off by all of their choices and decided not to vote.
Michigan – 16 electoral votes:
Obviously if the Stein voters had voted for Hillary Clinton, Michigan and its 16 electoral votes would have been added to Hillary’s column and subtracted from Trump’s. Again this is not taking into consideration those progressives who decided not to vote at all.
Pennsylvania – 20 electoral votes (99.8% reporting):
Even if the Stein voters in Pennsylvania had voted for Hillary Clinton, Trump would have still won the state by 19,312 votes, but this is not taking into consideration those progressives who stayed home and decided not to vote. Could those voters amounted to nearly 20,000 people? I guess we will never know, but given the huge population of the state it certainly seems possible.
Electoral College votes with Michigan and Wisconsin going to Clinton: Trump 278 – Clinton 259
Electoral College votes with Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania going to Clinton: Clinton 279 – 258
We will never know for sure how the Presidential election of 2016 would have turned out had all progressives turned out to vote for Hillary Clinton, who among the viable candidates was the only progressive. Perhaps, we would not have to suffer through the next four years of a Trump Presidency had ultra progressives voted rationally instead of emotionally.
I know some will have a tendency to dismiss this analysis as a bunch of “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve”. However, those people need take into consideration how just a few thousand votes could have resulted in totally different outcomes in these three states with a combined total of over 13 Million votes, and those few thousand votes could have reversed the results of the election. Every vote counts; your vote counts. Think long and hard in the future before your throw it away on a third party candidate.