The Effect of Jill Stein Voters on the 2016 Election

The Effect of Jill Stein Voters on the 2016 ElectionIt may seem an odd time to take a deep dive into the results of the 2016 presidential election. After all, is there any doubt that Trump’s win was a fluke? Clinton’s loss was overdetermined. What this means is that there were multiple factors that went against her, but had any one of them gone differently, she would have won the presidency. And I am interested in one of those potential things: liberals who voted for Jill Stein rather than Clinton in the 3 critical states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Assumptions

In order to do this, I have to make assumptions. The main assumption that I am going to make is that the increase in Jill Stein voters from 2012 to 2016 were liberals who refused to vote for Clinton. Whether you want to see this as a result of Clinton being a horrible candidate or these voters being propagandized is up to you.

Personally, I go with the latter because I saw it happening. Many of my liberal (Sanders-supporting) friends would ask me about conspiracy theories that had been debunked in the 1990s. What’s more, in as much as Clinton was a bad candidate, it was due to her long history of facing these false and often bizarre stories. Note that these have culminated in Clinton supposedly now running a sex-trafficking ring.[1]

Another major assumption has to do with how I deal with the different number of voters in each state during the 2016 and 2012 elections. There are three approaches to this. Case A is to ignore this effect and go with the straight vote totals. Case B is to weight based on the total vote in the state. And case C is to weight based on the total Democratic vote in the state. I believe that Case C is the best.

Although this assumption has a notable effect, it does not affect the result of any of the three states. However, I will come back to this issue of non-voters.

Results

I am only going to present the Case C results. This is simply because this article is already far too complicated for most people. But for those who want to check my work (which I would appreciate) or expand on it, there is a spreadsheet: Jill Stein 2016 Election. (In order to edit it, you will need to download it or — if you have a Google Drive account — make a copy.)

State Clinton Loss Margin Extra JS Votes Alt Clinton Margin
MI 10,704 18,048 -7,344
PN 44,292 29,689 14,603
WI 22,748 28,766 -6,018

As you can see, Wisconsin and Michigan would have gone for Clinton if these extra Jill Stein voters had chosen to vote for the Democratic candidate as they appear to have done in 2012. But Pennsylvania would still have gone for Trump — albeit by a substantially smaller margin (33 percent).

Clearly, the Jill Stein voters alone were not enough of an effect to have flipped the election from Trump to Clinton. But there’s more to consider.

Democratic Non-Voters

Another thing that jumps out of the numbers is how many fewer people in these states voted for the Democratic Candidate in 2016 than in 2012. This is despite the fact that there were more total votes in each state. Also: Trump got substantially more votes than Romney in Michigan and Pennsylvania and barely less (0.02 percent).

State 2012 2016 Decrease
MI 2,564,569 2,268,839 295,730
PN 2,990,274 2,926,441 63,833
WI 1,620,985 1,382,536 238,449

Taken together, these numbers clearly show that the liberals who just couldn’t vote for Clinton based on right-wing propaganda (admittedly, often pitched with leftist reasons) cost Clinton the presidency.

What We Lost When Clinton Lost

In the process, we have a conservative Supreme court. What’s more, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies in the next 2 (Or 6!) years, it will become more conservative still. We have an immigration crisis we would not have. There are strained relationships with our traditional international partners. We have an emboldened North Korea and Russia. We have trade wars.

There is no doubt that if Hillary Clinton were president today, I would be complaining about her constantly. But wouldn’t it be a lot better to be complaining about Clinton than Trump? Wouldn’t the people of the United States, and almost certainly the world, be much better off with Clinton in the White House?

No Regrets!

And here’s the thing: I have no problem with actual leftists voting for whomever they want. But most of the people who refused to vote for Clinton were not leftists. Let’s be clear: if you voted for Obama in 2012 then you weren’t making an ideological stand by voting for Jill Stein in 2016. You had just bought into the right-wing propaganda fed to you.

The funny thing is that I know some conservatives who voted for Trump and now regret it. (That’s hardly surprising; conservatives seem always to be voting for people they quickly repudiate.) I don’t know any Jill Stein voters who have done the same thing.

Faux-Revolutionaries

The truth is, you either join the revolution or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’ve got to be practical about your vote. And the people who suddenly discovered Jill Stein in 2016 are not revolutionaries. They are just easily manipulated political amateurs.

What’s more, Jill Stein is no revolutionary. Real leftists are not very keen on the Green Party. It is the party of the faux-revolutionaries.

What About the Extra Libertarian Voters?

One could, of course, make the argument that the Libertarian voters should have voted for Trump. There are a few problems with this. First, a lot of those Libertarians voters would have voted for the Democrat, not the Republican. But I admit, most of them would have voted for the Republican. But those who just could not cast a vote for Trump were not basing their decision on propaganda. They were refusing to vote for Trump because they understood that he would govern just as he has.

Clinton and Obama are pretty much identical: girl/boy scouts who are center (American) left. Other than insanity or total ignorance (Ding, ding, ding!) there was no reason for liberals not to vote for her. And if that’s you, it’s not something you need to be ashamed of. Just note it, learn, and move on.


[1] Note in this article the picture of Obama supposedly playing pizza at the pizzeria. No rational person could think that a pizzeria would have a very long hallway like that. You have to be convinced that a story is true to use such a thing as an indication much less proof. Of course, had Obama played ping-pong with a child that proves… What?!