What if third party candidates dropped out of the presidential race?
I present two pieces of evidence.
First, here is a screenshot of the ideologies of the major candidates who received the most popular votes in 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 48.2%, Republican Donald Trump received 46%, Libertarian Gary Johnson received 3.3%, and Green Jill Stein received 1%. (Johnson and Stein collectively received 5.9 million votes.)
I remove the word “strongly” to reach the following conclusions:
- Stein and Clinton agreed 16 of 20 times.
- Stein and Trump agreed 5 of 20.
- Johnson and Trump agreed 10 of 20.
- Johnson and Clinton agreed 6 of 20.
- Stein and Johnson agreed 8 of 20.
- Clinton and Trump agreed 3 of 20.
I don’t know if the presumptive Green, Libertarian, and Democratic candidates will agree the same way in 2020 as in 2016.
If they do, consider that 1) Stein was more aligned with Clinton than the other two candidates; 2) Johnson disagreed with Trump 50% of the time; and 3) Trump was the only candidate opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage, and legally hiring women and minorities.
Are those enough reasons to come together and defeat the worst president in U.S. history? That link is from 2018, by the way.
Second, remember the 2000 presidential election.
That’s when Al Gore won the popular vote by 543,895 and George W. Bush won the electoral vote by 5. Ralph Nader, the Green candidate, received 2.7% of the popular vote (from 2.8 million people).
There are multiple takeaways on this history lesson but I turn to a letter to the editor from 2015:
“Nader won enough votes in two states — Florida and New Hampshire — to put either of them in Gore’s column. Nader won 97,488 votes in Florida, which easily could have swung the election to give Gore the state’s 25 electoral votes, and there would have been no need for a recount. Even without Florida, adding Nader’s 4 percent of the New Hampshire vote to Gore’s 47 percent would have given Gore a 270 to 267 victory in the electoral college.”
I think it’s fair to assume, given the 2016 comparison of Stein to Clinton, that the majority, if not all, of Nader’s votes would have gone to Gore.
It’s unlikely that third-party candidates will drop out of the 2020 election.
But what if they did?
Looking back four years, what if the majority of Stein’s votes went to Clinton and half of Johnson’s votes also went to Clinton?
What if the Libertarian and Green parties fold their tents and come together to defeat Trump by endorsing Biden?
Their supporters can write-in whatever names they want, as people do anyway. But, if the parties endorsed Biden?