[personal profile] billified
I've had a little research project in the back of my mind since the election, this morning I finally sat down and worked it out.

Exit polls indicate that 40% of the people who voted for Clinton did so because she wasn't Trump. I doubt you will find many who will challenge that result considering much of her campaign strategy consisted of letting Trump beat himself. In exit polls of Trump voters, 40% of them also claimed they did so because he wasn't Hillary. That is also not surprising since the Republican campaign against her was in its 8th year (if not longer). When voters are asked why they don't consider voting third party, 9 out of 10 of them will reply "Because they have no chance of winning" thusly not even giving those candidates a critical look.

Let's do the math on that. In the 2016 election, 62,949,879 people voted for Trump while 65,894,954 people voted for Clinton. If we remove the perception that third parties have no chance, I think it is safe to say that 3 out of 4 of the "lesser of two evils" voters (the 40%) could be convinced to vote third party. That is 38,638,448 additional votes for third party candidates. Add in the 6,874,844 votes already cast for third parties gives us a total of 45,513,292 votes while leaving Trump with 44,094,916 votes and Clinton with 46,091,469 votes. Now we have a very different looking race with potentially Trump losing the popular vote to both Clinton and a third party candidate.

Wikipedia lists four third party candidates as having received more than 100,000 votes; Gary Johnson (4,488,919; 65.3% of the third party votes), Jill Stein (1,457,014; 21.2%), and two others (928,881 combined; 13.5%). Splitting the potential third party votes along those ratios gives us a final total of Clinton-46,091,469; Trump-44,094,916; Johnson-29,720,179; Stein-9,648,817; and Other-6,144,294 votes. It's still not a win for a third party, but the totals are close enough to make a lot of people sit up and take notice. Also not factored in are all the voters who hated both major candidates and didn't vote because they felt their vote for a third party would be wasted anyway.

It's not that the two major parties are nominating better candidates than them that keeps the third parties from even getting close to a win. It is simply the perception that no matter how much better their candidate is, they have no chance to win. The sooner they can shed that stigma, the sooner the American voter will get better choices on election day.

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