The 2016 Third-Party Surge

gary-johnson-jill-steinAll those protest votes add up.

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.

12 Responses

  1. But no one has yet to explain how Shapiro and Toreceillo (can’t spell his name) won more votes than Trump. Why voters in PA think the Attorney General and Treasurer are more important than the Presidency and Senate is beyond me.

  2. Third party votes did make a difference. Look at mine, for example. I began the year as a Republican. I switched to Democrat to vote for Bernie (actually, against Hillary). When it was Trump vs. Clinton, I registered Libertarian and voted and worked for Johnson. But if it had been Trump vs. Sanders, I would have voted for Sanders. If it had been Kasich vs. Clinton, I would have voted for Kasich. Johnson got my vote because neither major party candidate has any integrity whatever. However, now that I am in the Libertarian camp, I find I am comfortable, and will stay here.

  3. So, as you say, since most Libertarian voters, if they had a 2nd choice, would have been Trump, and since Jill Stein’s votes added to HRC’s wouldn’t have made a difference, then 3rd party voters made no difference in the presidential results in PA.

  4. Bravo Third Parties! Not only did you offer PA a choice, but PA paid you back by making it count. And we did so across the political spectrum.

    The Political Class can either notice, or continue with heads in sand as candidates like Sanders and Trump increase their prominence within your #BrokenSystem, weakening your duopoly that way.

  5. Susan, it’s called an “Undervote” and you can see what it was on the Secretary of State’s results page.

  6. Wish there were a way to tally all the ballots cast where voters left the top of the ticket blank.

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