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Third parties swayed election more than usual


After a close election on Nov. 8, third party candidates racked up more votes than expected in what is being called the most shocking election in modern history. 

President-Elect Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 11,423 votes in Michigan — which is still too close to call according to the Associated Press.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received 173,023 votes and 50,690 votes were cast for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Chairperson of the Political Science and Public Administration Department David Jesuit stressed it’s impossible to know what candidate voters would have supported, or if they would’ve voted at all, if they hadn’t voted third party.

However, looking at the close totals of the race Jesuit said it's reasonable to conclude that "in Michigan, third parties tipped (the election) toward Trump.”

Kyla Stepp, political science and public administration professor, said it’s particularly difficult to know which candidate Johnson could’ve impacted more. Libertarian voters typically lean more Republican she said.

“It’s hard to say,” she said. “A lot of people who wouldn’t have voted for Trump, and would’ve been more likely to vote for Clinton, could’ve seen Johnson as a middle option — he wasn’t corrupt and he wasn’t crazy.”

Jesuit said every person who votes is participating in a democratic system.

"I’ve seen personal friends have fights on social media saying, ‘why would you vote for Stein -- you gave (the election) to Trump,’" Jesuit said. "Rather than blame voters, (they should) direct that disappointment toward the candidates.”

Voter turnout overall was lower than the previous two elections, which also had an impact on results, Jesuit said. Trump won with fewer votes than Mitt Romney, who lost in 2012.

“People hated both candidates,” Jesuit said. “I think people held their noses, weren’t interested and decided to stay home.”

Stepp said turnout in 2016 was similar to turnout in elections before President Barack Obama ran.

“The thought was before this election, ‘will the Obama elections be anomalies or will this be a trend?’ It’s now pretty clear that it’s not a trend, they were anomalies," Stepp said.

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