You’ve been there; it’s the nonstory that never goes away. “The voters voted for Hilary Clinton, not Donald Trump. By 3 million votes.”
Well, yea. Ad nauseum. And there’s a close corollary that goes with that, the correlary being “If it wasn’t for Jill Stein, Hillary would have won.”
And another: “The country is more Democratic than it is Republican”.
How much of that is true? Well, let’s have a look:
Here’s the vote total from 2016, all in:
Now, it is obviously true that Clinton/Kaine got 2,868,686 more votes than Trump/Pence. Let’s graph that out:
However, we also see something that’s pretty obvious; the Libertarians took far more votes from the GOP than the Greens did from the Dems. This begs the question, “what happens if you group all the candidates by their leanings?” This is easily done by adding an “Orientation” column to the previous chart.
And redraw the graph using the Orientation on the category axis, stacked bar by ticket:
So, no, the voters are NOT more liberal than they are conservative, despite the largest vote total going to Clinton/Kaine. As you can see, the voters preferred the conservative/right leaning candidates over the liberal/left leaning candidates by about 1.1M votes nationally. Voting as an IDEOLOGY, the voters lean slightly right.
Now, let’s talk about the actual effect these small party candidates had on the general election. The story goes that if not for Jill Stein (who seems like a nice lady, btw), we would today have a President Clinton. True or not true?
Well, there were five close states where this analysis gets interesting. They were Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. Trump won three of them; Clinton won MN and NH. And, as stated before, if you were to group Jill Stein’s votes with Hilary’s, the chart looks like this:
Under those conditions, Clinton sweeps the five states in question, and she’s the President, with 273 electoral votes.
However, that’s a left-serving analysis. Johnson/Weld, after all, won 3.27% of the vote, whilst Jill Stein won only 1.06%; and McMullen’s vote count was non-negligible as well. In other words, and as previously shown, Johnson took more votes from Trump than Stein took from Clinton.
So, to conduct this argument fairly, if you’re going to group Stein with Clinton, you need to group the right-leaning third parties together as well; and if you do THAT, your chart looks like this:
If that were done, instead of Clinton winning the five states in question, Trump sweeps them all, including MN and NH, which Clinton won in the general.
The conclusion from this should be that although third parties garner a negligible % of the total vote count (in 2016, around 5% of the votes went to a third party) our electoral system magnifies their effect rather significantly.