For a lot of us, we woke up to a situation that left us with one burning question: How did this happen? How did Donald Trump get elected?
While the end electoral count ended up at a narrow margin of 276 vs. 232, the story behind Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the highest office in the nation culminates in a story of disenfranchisement and a small group of people who inadvertently decided the election.
That isn’t to say that this was the case in every state. Of course, it wasn’t. But in a few key states, such as Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, the margin for victory for Donald Trump was less than one percent. Let’s be frank. In every single state that was close, Trump won. These three states had a voter margin of less than one percent.
So what does that mean? Well, let’s break down how the votes fell in Florida, for example. With 100 percent of all the precincts reporting, Donald Trump took 49 percent of the popular vote with 4,591,156 to Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent with 4,462,338 votes. That’s a difference of 128,818 votes. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate took two percent of the popular vote with 204,818 votes. Jill Stein got 63,658 votes. According to party ideals and polls, Libertarians will vote Democrat if there is no Libertarian candidate available. What does this tell you? Without the third party, Hillary Clinton takes Florida and those 29 electoral votes.
That’s just one example. Consider the election results in Michigan. With 96 percent of the districts reporting, the popular vote fell in familiar lines. Donald Trump took 48 percent with 2,166,071 votes and Hillary Clinton took 2,106,512. That’s a margin of 59,559 votes. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate took 165,416 votes. Michigan carries 16 electoral votes.
Pennsylvania, with 99 percent of districts in, Donald Trump has 49 percent with 2,900,785 popular votes and Hilary Clinton has 48 percent with 2,825,767 popular votes. That’s a narrow difference of 75,018 votes. Again, Gary Johnson took 141,880 votes. If those votes went to Clinton, the 20 electoral votes that Pennsylvania carries would be in her cart.
What happened? How did Hillary Clinton’s campaign and bid for presidency, which most agreed was a near shoe-in, implode so spectacularly? The answer boils down to the alienation that third party voters felt when it came to the Democratic nominee.
Hillary Clinton was never able to overcome the distrust and suspicion that many fringe voters had for her. When WikiLeaks released the allegations that the DNC had maneuvered and forced their favorite candidate Bernie Sanders out in favor of the more political Clinton, that distrust flared. That showed up in droves at the voting booths.
Clinton was expected to easily carry the traditionally Democratic-leaning state of Pennsylvania, but her honest answers regarding coal as a dwindling energy source alienated workers throughout the central areas of the state. That enabled Donald Trump and Republicans to sweep the rural areas, making the race for the Keystone State close enough for third party voters to make a difference.
The problem, of course, lies with the political party system. The Founding Fathers never envisioned a three or even two-party system. According to their republican (lower case r) ideals, they thought that people would come together and work toward the greater good. But in this, as all cases of idealistic ideologies, human self-interest gets in the way.
Does this mean that we should abolish third party voting? No. There is a fundamental right to being able to vote for whoever you want to. But maybe the third party candidates can look at their chances to be elected with a cold and unwavering eye. And in elections such as this one, where the stakes are entirely too high, make the decision to bow out for the greater good.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]