Partisans on all sides are in disagreement whether a vote for Jill Stein and the Greens is a wasted vote. Some say she’s a spoiler, many say a Green vote is a protest vote, a few say she can win, and others say you should vote based on your beliefs. But what I am wondering is - can she actually win?
Let’s first take a look at our last presidential election. As everyone knows Obama beat Mitt Romney quite handily. Below is a chart showing how many votes each candidate received.
There are currently 146,311,000 registered voters in the US. Of these, 126,144,000 voted in 2012. The break down of registered voters by party follows. (Note – Green Party data is from 2014. We will assume that they now have 1 million voters due to an inrush after the DNC primary debacle)
As you can see, the majority of Americans now identify as independent. Now lets take a look at the results from the 2012 Presidential Election, and how these independents voted.
Romney won the independent vote by a pretty substantial margin. This would suggest that most independents lean toward the GOP. This could be an anomaly or due to the fact that Obama was the sitting president with a neutral / negative favorability at the time.
For calculation sake, we will say that Jill Stein can get half of the Independents, those who do not affiliate as a Democrat but lean that direction could go to the Green Party. Even with half of the independents, Jill will not be close to winning. Since so many are angry with the DNC and the Democrats, let’s say that Jill and the Greens can get half of the Democratic voters as well. This chart is below.
As you can see here, even with half of the independents and half of the registered Democrats voting for Stein, she would still lose to Trump. Since the Greens did not invest much time registering new voters, I feel confident saying that she will not get anywhere near this number of votes.
Most realistic people who plan to vote Green know she will not win. They are voting their beliefs and for the future of the party. If Jill Stein receives 5% of the popular vote, the Green Party will get major party status and automatic ballot access in the future as well as millions in Federal election funding. But what does that mean for the future? Let’s take a look at the electoral map now and see what would happen if the Greens won the liberal strongholds, states like New York and California.
In the map above, the purple states are liberal states that the Green party could potentially win. Red are GOP strongholds and the blue are the Democratic states. In this scenario, the Greens would get 151 electoral votes, the Democrats 167, and the GOP 219 respectively. I think it is safe to assume that Texas and Lousianna are not going green any time soon.
Even winning these States, the Greens do not secure the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Since no party received the 270 required to win, the President would be chosen by the House of Representatives. In 2016, this would mean that the GOP would make the decision and install Trump.
So can Jill win? The answer is a resounding no. Progressives and others on the left need to recognize the systemic challenges we face to winning in electoral politics. The system is designed to keep radical elements of change on the outside by design. The mere fact that Senate seats are voted on every 6 years means that a movement needs to keep momentum for at least that amount of time in order to gain power. Running a candidate for president every four years then disappearing is an effort in futility.
It is time for us to start viewing things in a long term strategy. We need to focus all efforts on changing the current electoral system before we can hope to gain power in large numbers as independents. We must organize and push for The Next Deal.
Next Deal Electoral Reforms
1) Get rid of the Electoral College and elect the president by popular vote
2) Instate Proportional Representation in the US House and in State Legislatures across the country. Proportional representation awards seats beaded on the percentage of total votes received and not on a winner take all basis that we currently have. If the Green party won 10% of the vote nationally, they would receive 10% of the seats in the US House.
3) All voting machines must have paper back ups for every ballot that is cast in the election. Votes should be tallied by counting both paper ballots by hand and by voting machine. If the hand counted paper ballots do not match the vote tally from the machines, the election will not be certified.
4) We must push for public campaign finance in which all candidates receive equal funding and equal air time. The influence of money in our elections is toxic and has destroyed our representative government.
How are we going to implement these ideas you ask? We can do this if we think strategically and organize. See how here