Trump, independents and the popular vote

Much is being made about the fact that Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the election. In fact, by the most recent numbers she is ahead by almost 2.5 million votes. The implication being that more people supported her than Trump, so maybe he doesn’t really belong in the White House.

While there certainly is an argument to be made about direct democracy versus representative democracy, it seems to me that this kind of misses the bigger picture, especially as it relates to the independents.

So here’s the most recent count, per Wikipedia (note, the numbers will probably change at the link subsequent to the publishing of this article):

Trump – 62,438,763

Clinton – 64,641,091

Johnson – 4,429,013

Stein – 1,402,184

There are other independents beyond those, but their relative numbers are much smaller and don’t alter my conclusions.

So, a couple of observations, some of which are repeats from what I’ve written about previously. First, there were far more votes cast for independents this time around than in recent elections. That, combined with the relatively low overall voter turnout gives the distinct impression that far more people didn’t particularly like either candidate compared to past elections; they voted for “what’s behind door number 3?” or they just stayed home.

But things get a little more interesting when we take a closer look at the independents – particularly the two biggest fish – and see how they compare, ideologically, to the two big parties.

Johnson, it would seem, is most likely to align with a broadly Republican perspective; he even campaigned for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. And Stein seems more at home with Democrat values and priorities.

So if we recognize that the independents share perspectives with the two major parties then we can conceptually ask ourselves if Americans tended toward a broadly Republican view of things or a broadly Democrat view of things by adding up their respective votes. Here’s how things shake out:

Republican-ish: 62,438,763 + 4,429,013 = 66,867,776

Democrat-ish: 64,641,091 + 1,402,184 = 66,043,275

More Americans (those who voted, anyway) cast their vote for those parties with a more-or-less Republican view of things than they did for those parties with a more-or-less Democrat view of things. In fact, the difference (824,501) is nearly a million votes in favour of Republican-ish parties.

Clinton appears to have won the popular vote, that is true, but fewer Americans voted for broadly Democrat-ish parties than voted for broadly Republican-ish parties. If we want to be really honest about the kinds of policies Americans cast their vote for, it isn’t the policies of the Democrat party.

Food for thought.

One other thought; perhaps Trump was lucky to have won. Those who peeled away from the mainstream parties were more likely to peel away from the Republican party for a Republican-esque party than to peel away from the Democrat party for a Democrat-esque party (i.e. Johnson got far more votes than Stein). Could this be somewhat in line what what I previously wrote about social conservatives? Ignore them and they will find some other political home. If so, Republicans might want to take note before the next election; maybe next time the Libertarians will secure even more votes ensuring a victory for the Democrats by splitting the Right.

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