The 2016 presidential election ended just as it began, with Election night bringing a slew of shocking surprises for polling experts, analysts and politicians who predicted wins for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in several key battleground states. Donald Trump defeated the former secretary of state by slim margins in the toss up state of Florida, leading many to pose the question: did third-party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson possibly cost Clinton the election?
Some experts suggest Johnson, a libertarian, detracted votes from Trump, while some pundits blamed Stein for taking a small portion of likely voters toward the Democratic Party. Johnson garnered two percent of the total vote in Florida, while Trump and Clinton received 49 and 48 percent respectively. Stein took .7 percent of the vote in the state, with 63,092 ballots cast for the Green Party candidate.
Throughout most modern American presidential elections, third-party candidates haven’t greatly impacted the overall popular vote across the nation. Florida, however, has remained a contentious battleground state since 2000, when former President George Bush narrowly defeated then-Vice President Al Gore.
This year, analysts were following polling in Florida closely to determine whether Trump had any chance of securing the White House. But Clinton’s fledgling final outcome in the state likely had little to do with Stein’s garnering of less than one percent of the vote.
Though Florida saw a surge in the Latino population participating in the 2016 election than ever before, turnout among African-Americans dipped lower than 2008 numbers, which certainly cost Clinton a significant portion of votes – possibly even more than what Stein was able to secure in the southern state.
For Johnson and Stein, securing the White House has been the goal, but not necessarily the mission in this year's election. "Let’s interrupt the 2-party downward spiral," Stein tweeted Tuesday. For his part, Johnson said Tuesday it would be a major victory for all third party candidates if he were able to garner just five percent of the popular vote, the New York Times reported.