Last week, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein received 2.39% and 0.82% of the vote respectively.
Four years ago, Johnson and Stein were on the ballot with President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney. They combined for just 71,323 votes. Back then, though, the difference between Obama and Romney was 309,840 votes, so those third-party ballots weren’t given much thought.
This year, however, the Donald Trump’s margin over Hillary Clinton was just 66,299 votes. Johnson secured more than double that, 142,621, while Stein got 48,899. Additionally there was a little-noticed fifth candidate on statewide ballots, Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, who received 20,914 votes.
Altogether that’s 212,434 votes (3.56%) cast for candidates not named Trump or Clinton.
Of course, it is common for observers to note that not all third-party voters swing one way. In the past Libertarians have been more likely to support Republicans while Greens lean towards Democrats but that’s by no means a universal principle.
It’s also asserted that many third-party supporters wouldn’t have voted at all if their candidate wasn’t on the ballot. Nonetheless, they still bothered to show up. That’s something millions of other Americans didn’t have time for.
At this moment, the difference between Trump and Clinton currently stands at just 1.12%. You have to go back to the 1840 contest between William Henry Harrison and Martin Van Buren to find a year when the results in PA were closer.