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Is 2016 The Year A Third-Party Candidate Wins The White House?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two of the most hated presidential candidates in recent history, and an increasing number of voters are turning to third-party candidates for a choice they can live with.

It would be a rare and difficult feat for a third-party candidate to win the White House, but it’s far from impossible; Google searches for write-in ballots are rapidly increasing as Americans consider their choices.

Independent candidate Evan McMullin is polling strong in Utah while Bernie Sanders supporters are running a write-in campaign in Vermont. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson could win in New Mexico.

If the third-party challengers were able to prevent either Trump or Hillary from getting the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency, it would fall to the House of Representatives to elect the next commander-in-chief.

[Image by George Frey/Getty Images]
[Image by George Frey/Getty Images]

In Utah, third-party candidate and BYU graduate Evan McMullin is a mere four points behind Trump and Clinton who are tied with 26 percent of the vote. Utah has always been considered a difficult win for Trump, and after the latest fallout from the lewd video and accusations of groping, his numbers have continued to drop alongside Clinton’s, who isn’t popular either.

After the poll made headlines this week, McMullin responded to the Deseret News asking Utah residents to start a grassroots movement that could propel the independent candidate into the White House.

“Utahns have a special place in this election. What we kept hearing would be impossible, has now happened. This is just the beginning and we will continue to grow our movement well beyond Utah.”

In Vermont, which has three electoral votes, Bernie Sanders supporters are waging a write-in campaign that could find the senator walking away with victory, even though he’s said he doesn’t want to win.

“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”

[Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]
Bernie Sanders [Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

That hasn’t stopped Bernie supporters from jumping on social media and encouraging Vermont voters to write in Sanders on election day.

In New Mexico, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is also polling strong with 24 percent of the vote while Clinton leads with 35 percent and Trump has 31 percent.

A FiveThirtyEight poll shows Johnson with a 3 percent chance of winning New Mexico, and if Clinton and Trump wind up splitting the rest of the vote, that could be enough to deny either candidate enough votes to claim the presidency.

Across the country there are seven states that allow voters to write in a candidate and another 34 that allow write-ins for candidates who submit paperwork before the election.

[Image by George Frey/Getty Images]
Gary Johnson [Image by George Frey/Getty Images]

Other candidates who could upset the election are Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle, and Reform Party candidate Rocky De La Fuente, all of whom are on the ballot or have filled out paperwork in enough states to make a difference.

The last time a third-party candidate managed to win any electoral votes was George Wallace in 1968, but several have managed to win elections during the primary season.

The latest FiveThirtyEight poll shows Clinton with an 87 percent chance of winning the presidency; that’s up from around 55 percent in September and probably accounts for recent Trump fallout.

It is, however, still possible that a third-party candidate could win the White House in November. On Saturday, Oct. 15, there were 23 days until the polls open. Who will you be voting for?

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