People who voted for Jill Stein were tricked, and we are all paying for it

Or so it seems.

Donald Trump won the 2016 election with 306 votes to Hillary Clinton's 232 votes. That is a spread of 74 votes.

Clinton was likely to win in several states in which she lost, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, maybe Ohio, etc. In three states that could have gone either way, Jill Stein's vote count was larger than the difference between Clinton and Trump. In Michigan, Trump won by 10,704 votes, Stein got 51,463 votes. In Pennsylvania, Trump won by 46,765 votes, Stein got 49,678 votes. In Wisconsin, Trump won by 22,177 votes, Stein got 31,006 votes.

If every Jill Stein vote would have been a Clinton Vote, it is likely that Clinton would have had 49 electoral votes more than she did have.

That alone would have put Clinton in the white house.

We now know that Russian hackers worked hard on getting people to vote for Stein. They spread around the idea that it was "safe" to vote for a third party candidate in states where the outcome was obvious anyway.

I told people this many times. I said, again and again, the logic that you can vote "safely" in a general election for a third party candidate in certain states is flawed for several reasons. One of those reasons, I said, is that you might only think the state is safe, and perhaps it is not.

Using Stein, who is known to have hobnobbed with Putin (which may or may not be relevant here), and I'm sure a few other trick here and there, the Russians may have given their guy Trump the three electoral college wins that put him in the White House.

We've learned this as part of the recent expose of Facebook's blind cooperation with the Russians in the 2016 election. (Or maybe not all blind? We just don't know yet. How hard might it have been for the Russians to play Zuckerberg?) We are about to find out if Twitter played a similar role.

It is valid, as well as lazy, to argue that, "but but it was other things too you can't say this etc." but the truth is that Stein hardly even ran in most states, got overall less than 1% of the vote.

So yes, it is possible to erase the Stein votes in three key states, and manage for Clinton to still lose in those states, but highly unlikely. It is very likely that the Stein vote was a significant contributor to what ultimately happened.

Putin would not be able to control US elections if two things were true. 1) Americans actually showed up to vote and 2) The percentage of gullible special snowflake ignorant voters was about half of what it apparently is.

Watch this:

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HRC lost. Some people will never get over this fact.

By WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot (not verified) on 28 Sep 2017 #permalink

These ads weren't hard to do. After all, you had a good chunk of the US population already believing the lies that she (HRC) was responsible for Benghazi, that she sold uranium to Russia, that she and Bill had a record of killing people, that President Obama was not a citizen and wasn't born in the United States, that he had damaged the economy, etc. Anyone stupid enough to believe any single one of those things can't be considered a critical thinker -- finding a noticeable subset in certain states who were deeply invested in those falsehoods would be taken in hook line and sinker by these ads.

Your logic is flawed. The number of voters in those states for Jill Stein in 2016 varied by less than 3% from the number of votes she received in 2012, thus those voters would have voted for any Green Party candidate over any Democratic Party candidate as they did in 2012.

By Howard A Markert (not verified) on 28 Sep 2017 #permalink

Howard, my logic is math. Also read the whole post.

You voted for her, didn't you!

Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were Jill Stein's 29th, 31st, and 39th best percentage performances.,_2016

I think the story is reversed and that Jill Stein's voters are more likely to have voted for Trump, while Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin are more likely to vote for Hillary, if they bothered to vote.
Jill Stein was campaigning that Hillary was a warmonger. Johnson and McMullin voters were saying we survived 8 years of Obama, we can survive Hillary, but Trump is dangerous and horrific, either for the country or as the Republican leader he would destroy the party's image. Johnson's VP Weld went off message and expressed disappointment that Hillary wasn't pulling away.

MikeN: Right, Stein got about an average (for her) in those states.

However, the reverse argument is not valid. Green paty candidates are not likely to vote for a libertarian or a republican.

Trump voters deserve everything they get. They are not innocent.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 28 Sep 2017 #permalink

> Green paty candidates are not likely to vote for a libertarian or a republican.

Yes, they are not likely. 2016 was an unusual year.

We also need to take into consideration the number of votes suppressed in those states, especially Michigan and Wisconsin. There were over 500k votes suppressed in states HRC was projected to win that went to Trump, if it weren't for the GOP's horrific treatment of voters and gerrymandering, we wouldn't have that buffoon in the White House or be looking at a possible war with NK due to his inability to keep his mouth shut and to stay off Twitter.

Awful political science. You can never assume that all of a third party vote would go to that side of the ideological spectrum if there had not been a third party candidate. Sound research showed that 37% of Florida Nader voters would have voted for Bush. As one who finished second in the Green Party primaries and who has criticized Jill's going to Russia, I still find the article to be utter nonsense. Jill did not elect Trump. Not even close.

By Bill Kreml (not verified) on 28 Sep 2017 #permalink

Let's see. If anyone was responsible for making voters think it was "safe" to vote for Jill Stein in these states, it was the mainstream US media, who had their thumbs on the cork of Clinton's champagne bottle for months even as they hung on Trump's every word for good ratings. It was the NYT, WaPo, CNN, 538, and MSNBC who kept insisting that Clinton's victory was a foregone conclusion. Even our own Greg Laden colored Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin blue in every one of his predictive electoral maps (well OK, PA was gray in one map 5 days before the election). Not only did people think it was safe to vote Green, they thought it was safe to stay home on election day. That had nothing to do with Russian hackers.

Besides, are you suggesting no one had an independent reason to vote for Stein? You think 95% of her supporters in PA would have voted for Clinton if they thought Trump had a chance of winning?

Also, who are these hackers you speak of? What did they hack? How do you know? Are you referring to the DHS claim that hackers targeted 21 state election systems, which they had to retract in regards to Wisconsin only days later? Which the uber-Democratic state of California also denies is true? Or are you referring to WaPo's report that the Russkies hacked the electrical grid in Vermont, a headline which the paper had to retract after Burlington Electric pointed out that it was bullshit? Or are you referring to the supposed hack of the DNC servers by Guccifer 2.0? Or the fact that John Podesta gave away his Gmail password to an unknown party? Or are you just referring to the influence of ad buys on facebook, which required no hacking at all? Hackers don't spread ideas around, Greg. They hack. Bloggers, on the other hand, do spread ideas around, even if they're just reiterations of propagandist drivel from the likes of Rachel Maddow.

By Wesley Dodson (not verified) on 29 Sep 2017 #permalink

Yeah, & 3 questions on a 10 point test is the difference between a C & a perfect score! Of course you can find some data that would get you a result you wanted if it went a different way. Look, I don't think it's a good thing that he's in the white house either, but you can't just manipulate numbers like this & go, "See, the outcome could've been totally different!" as if that proves anything. It's utterly unreasonable to expect that every Stein voter would've voted Hillary, most were probably dedicated Green Party voters!

We see this pattern again & again. Why didn't 100% of Bernie voters vote Hillary instead of just 90%? Why didn't all of the 3rd party voters go for her? Why didn't the half of America that statistically never votes vote for her? Why didn't some other practically impossible thing happen?

But you're missing the much more significant statistic: Hillary lost against the candidate the DNC deliberately selected on the basis of being the weakest contender. Even if we decided elections by popular votes, she would've won by a margin very little more than a rounding error, way less than Obama won by in either term. How can you possibly have such a dismal performance on a softball challenge that was going exactly as you planned it to, & justify thinking, "Well, certainly WE didn't make a mistake anywhere!"? If you could only win by getting every possible vote, you could never have won, & you need a change of tactics, candidates, or both.

What a bunch of drivil. I NEVER was voting for Hillary. Bernie MIGHT have pulled me back to the Dems, but I left in 2013. I was a Stein supporter before Clinton even announced her canidicy.

By Nathan Lane (not verified) on 29 Sep 2017 #permalink

If all the Hillary and Bernie voters had voted for Jill, she would have won!

"Howard, my logic is math." His math and your math are both correct, in a sense. Your math says that if every Stein voter had voted for Hillary (which others have pointed out would not have happened), Hillary would have won. Howard's math says that if Stein only got 3% more votes in those states in 2016 than she did in 2012 [I have not checked this!], when both of the major parties ran much better candidates, it is not plausible that most of her 2016 voters voted for her only because they were hoodwinked by the Rooskies - unless the Russians were campaigning equally hard for Stein in 2012.

Utter nonsense and you know it. People voted for Jill Stein because she ran on a progressive platform, not because Vladimir Putin or anyone else tricked them into it. Nor does any politician or political party own votes—ballots have to be earned.

After decades of serving the super wealthy to the exclusion of all others, of breaking the law to line her own pockets and press her personal and political agendas, and of lying every time she opens her mouth, nobody trusted that insanely hawkish and dangerously reckless Hillary Clinton not to start a war with a nuclear armed nation and continue the business of selling off the nation to whomever could enhance her family's personal fortunes.

Most of the people who voted for Clinton did so only because they feared Drumpf more. At no point did she even try to make a case for why voters should cast their ballots for her, and when she and her campaign, the DNC, and even members of the mainstream media were caught rigging the Democrats' own primaries to favor her, and after she and her husband exerted pressure on Obama officials not to prosecute her for having obviously violated the law with those private email servers and obstructions of justice, well, why would any rational person vote for her knowing it wouldn't make a bit of difference whether it was her or the Great Orange Dope screwing them over? To the extent that the whiny, deranged little boy presently disgracing the Oval Office played to the racists, sexists, homophobes, and Islamophobes, he did attract the worst elements of American society. But he also drew in enough of the people Michael Moore correctly described as wanting to give a great big middle finger to the elites who have shipped good-paying jobs out of the country in search of cheap labor and lower taxes—and Clinton was the biggest and most shameless of those elites.

Had Clinton done her job and actually campaigned in crucial electoral states, had she made a case and voiced a vision people could get behind, had she not been caught cheating and then lying about it, and had she not broken the law and then pulled strings to avoid prosecution, she would be in the White House now instead of that Cheeto-faced baboon. But the Democrats would rather keep losing running far right Republicans on their tickets than allow actual liberals like Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich take back the party on behalf of working folk, and so no we're saddled with a dangerously unstable lunatic that the establishment is hell bent on pushing into open nuclear war.

Instead of blaming Green Party voters, blame yourselves for backing an incompetent, criminally corrupt warmonger with a fetish for pleasing Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.

You're also failing to consider that if Hillary had bothered to campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, she might have eked out a few more thousand votes-- enough to swing the election her way.

Or if she had done ANY outreach to the Independents, Moderates, Millenia or to the Bernie Sanders faction of the Democratic Party, instead of actively pushing them away, she might have gained a few more percentage points.

By Scott McLachlan (not verified) on 29 Sep 2017 #permalink

Scott, I've not failed to consider this factors. Those are factors, and Clinton has said so as well.

Bush gets 37% of Nader voters? I have a hard time believing that is sound science. Far more likely that less than 37% would have voted or Gore or Bush and the rest don't vote.

If Greg replaced Jill Stein in the headline with Bernie Sanders, he can get an interesting story. Search the wikileaks for 'arrangement'.

We didn't need Russia to tell us that PA, WI, and MI were safe states. Hillary was so confident they were safe, she didn't even campaign there. She was too busy holding fundraisers for wealthy donors in the mid-Atlantic region and California to campaign in the midwest. Furthermore, we were told Hillary didn't need our vote anyway. Finally, the Libertarian candidate took more votes away from Trump than Stein took from Clinton.

All I can say (again) is that I am glad that Australia has preferential voting.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 30 Sep 2017 #permalink

this may come as a shock
but Democrats aren't entitled to votes from members of parties that aren't Democrats.

By lol clinton lo… (not verified) on 30 Sep 2017 #permalink

Run your War Queen™ again in 2020 homey, see if it pans out for you better. Maybe it was just a fluke this time. :)

By lol clinton lo… (not verified) on 30 Sep 2017 #permalink

So Jill Stein voters are too dumb to figure out who to vote for and relied solely on Russian campaign ads?

The Egyptians were too dumb to build the pyramids and the Nazca weren't smart enough to know how to draw those lines in the sand, either, so aliens must have done it.

I'm not actually buying either argument. I voted for Clinton

By Walt Garage (not verified) on 30 Sep 2017 #permalink

Walt, interesting idea. Maybe they are.

I could go on and on about what pisses me off about certain Russian activities. Instead I'll just point out that the Russians aren't creating divisions so much as they are exploiting them. There are a couple of ways to look at that: greens are splitting off from the Democrats; or the Democrats are splitting off from greens. As a general rule I'd say that those with the most power need to take the most responsibility for the outcome.

Conversely those who mock Democrats for not getting over Clinton's loss miss the point. Democrats are frustrated because they can't satisfactorily put their finger on why they lost. They have every reason to be very concerned about this.

I can't help thinking despite myself, of the women at Little Bighorn who went to Custer's corpse after the battle and pierced his eardrums with needles-- so that he could hear better in the afterlife.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 01 Oct 2017 #permalink

Michael nails it. Although I am no fan of Putin, this obsession with blaming Russia for allowing the system to vomit in an atrocity like Trump - and I make no bones about it, he and his regime are despicable - is itself nauseating. The Democrats lost in part because Clinton ran an abominable campaign, she was politically cloned from the likes of Jeb Bush and the neocons (she campaigned for Barry Goldwater as a teenager) and she and her Party have become the nation's second Property Party in thrall to the banks and corporations. Instead of facing up the the brutal truth, Clinton and the DNC have sought to scapegoat anyone they can find. Russia is simply convenient.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 01 Oct 2017 #permalink

"If every Jill Stein vote would have been a Clinton Vote, it is likely that Clinton would have had 49 electoral votes more than she did have."

That is not math, that is pure conjecture.

By Lou Novak (not verified) on 01 Oct 2017 #permalink

Lou, suggesting that if 2 were added to 2 that the result would be 4 is math.

Jeff, your comments are ones I agree influenced things -- all except "she campaigned for Barry Goldwater as a teenager".

That's irrelevant to the others, and she has said (multiple times) that by the time she was at Yale had become a liberal Democrat. She did campaign for McGovern in '72.

The Goldwater stuff is no more relevant to casting her as Republican lite than the Goldwater stuff is to casting her as radical left.

When you try to point out the realities of the two-party system the US has saddled itself with - and the reality is that voting for a 3rd party candidate like Jill Stein who has not a chance in hell of winning is the same as not voting at all, because it dilutes the party vote... the special snowflakes hop all over you with stuff like "Don't you tell me how to vote!"

These people are in denial of reality much the same as anti-vaxxers or AGW deniers. You have to look at it this way: Hillary was definitely the lesser of two evils in this election, as has been borne out by Trump and co's behaviour ever since he was elected. No one is saying that Hillary is perfect. But in no way is she even remotely as bad for the future of the US (and for that matter the rest of the world) as Trump is.

By metzomagic (not verified) on 02 Oct 2017 #permalink

Another textbook example of this was the 2000 election where Gore lost to Bush by the very narrowest of margins. In Florida, the state that it all came down to, 3rd party candidate Ralph Nader got 97,488 votes. It is certain that a large majority of those liberal votes would have gone to Gore if Nader wasn't running, and Gore would have easily won Florida and thus the election.

By metzomagic (not verified) on 02 Oct 2017 #permalink

ETA: one of the fairest articles I've seen discussing the dilution of votes along party lines is here:…

This is the takeaway para FTA (and the ones that follow it to conclude the article):

"But our presidential election system does force individuals to vote strategically -- or pay a political price. We have no runoff elections. The plurality winner gets all of a state’s Electoral College votes. If you refuse to accept that mathematical reality, and you deliberately vote without strategic consideration, you get more results like 2000."

By metzomagic (not verified) on 02 Oct 2017 #permalink


I voted for Clinton roughly along the lines that you laid out. In terms of strategy, my hope was that, however incrementally, she might be able to bend the trajectory of the country in a good direction: though pessimisticly I suspected that at best she would only be able to slow what I see as a decline.

So I can understand that a certain percentage of people (out of a sufficiently large number of people fed up with BAU for whatever reason) might want to send a message if not just "rip the band aid off." It's practically physics, and it seems to me that things are very hot here-- to the point that I question how manageable the situation is becoming... at least by the pool of managers we now have...

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 02 Oct 2017 #permalink

@metzomagic - I will disagree that it came down to Florida. Nader got more votes (as a percentage) in New Hampshire and had those people (or even a sizable chunk) voted Gore he takes NH and Florida does not matter.

Further, had Gore won his home state (Tennessee) neither FL or NH matter. But Gore couldn't win a state that elected him as a senator. That's the sign of a rather weak-ish candidate right there. No president has won without their home state (prior to Trump) for a century at least. (It makes some sense; generally if people who have the most reason to get behind you won't back you, you're not going to win over anyone else).

As for blaming Stein, I don't think that the position that a large piece of Stein voters would otherwise vote Clinton was wrong, exactly. But that doesn't mean that Clinton's campaign didn't have problems -- in fact it underscores it. I am not quite sure I buy that Russian influence always drove those voters either, because generally the right wing of the conspiracy spectrum is far louder than the left one (this isn't always true, but it has been for the past few years). Relative GOP heavyweights were willing to spout the craziest things from InfoWars or Breitbart, and there wasn't that kind of support for say, anti-vax or even anti-GMO thinking from prominent Democrats and CNN never repeated anything of what Stein had to say. (If you watched the major networks you'd hardly know she was running).

Aside from that, Clinton's refusal -- after the WI Dems begged her -- to campaign in WI was simply complacency. That happens. There was every reason to think that WI was pretty likely to go Democrat once again, especially with Trump running. Similar things could be said of MI and PA. This wasn't so much because pollsters were wrong (they were all w/in their MoEs) but because the available data Clinton had indicated that people wouldn't likely change their voting patters a ton. They didn't, either, but some of the ones who were Clinton people in crucial states stayed home.

And I'd have to agree that moving the needle essentially 1.5 % or so needed an affirmative reason to vote for Clinton -- who won the popular vote, never forget. She'd have done even better against Trump I think if she was willing to at least throw a sop to Sanders people (remember Obama made her Secretary of State, and it was clear she was going to get a cabinet post when Obama ran, in no small part to appease her wing of the party). It wouldn't have killed her to have one of Sanders' advisors or supporters, or even Sanders himself, in a high-profile position.

And when Trump says "I will get your job back and keep more from going" and Clinton says "well, we will retrain you, and you might get a new job, might not" -- when everyone knows that retraining is horseshit because your new job will probably pay less - who makes more sense to any worker? Add a dollop of racism that has infected the GOP for 50 years, and pushed the Overton Window far enough that they became the party of David freaking Duke 20+ years ago.

In that sense the fact that the Greens got roughly the same vote percentage as before is significant, as is the fact that there is good data to show Republicans were motivated to come out to vote in a way Democrats were not (turnout numbers bear this out). Clinton -- a white woman -- simply was never going to get black voters to support her in quite the same percentage (turnout wise) as Obama was.

Then we add on voter suppression efforts.

In sum, I don't doubt the Russians would have tried some shenanigans. But I don't think it was as simple as getting Trump a win, or supporting the Greens, just as the US governments meddling in other elections isn't as simple as that binary. And I'd not lay Clinton's loss at the feet of Stein, not entirely. Looking at some numbers, I see that in those crucial states Clinton lost Democratic turnout was depressed, the GOP's was up. What would you expect to happen?

The election was always Clinton's to lose, and not every problem was her fault. Stein voters could have tipped the balance, but Clinton could have made her affirmative case better. Those are not mutually exclusive, I don't think.

(I didn't vote for Stein because I thought she was simply put, unserious about policy).

@ # 36

"...moving the needle essentially 1.5 % or so needed an affirmative reason to vote for Clinton — who won the popular vote, never forget. She’d have done even better against Trump I think if she was willing to at least throw a sop to Sanders people..."

'Affirmative reason', and as some said, what did Dems stand for? I thought it was pretty obvious what they stood for until I actually tried to put it into a straightforward, overarching sentence that had some punch to it: "Why vote for us? Here let us drag you into the weeds and hypnotize you with our wonkiness."

Presentation was just problematic overall considering, for exmple, Clinton's oddly weak performance with women; especially white women and millenials.

When I saw her on TV attempting to heal a rift with millenial women after patronizing them, I thought that what she said was pretty good -- if you listened with your eyes closed. You could imagine her standing on stage surrounded by a diverse group of smiling supporters. Open your eyes and the optics said something else. All I remember is her standing there in front of a wall of somewhat smug looking, middle aged white women in pantsuits who looked like they might be hiding hickory switches behind their backs.

And then there was that spate of online comment testimonials along the lines of "I used to be a Bernie supporter, but then I grew up..."

I don't know, it just seemed the campaign had the feel of people from another era living inside their heads... IMO.

That was no excuse not to vote for her, of course, but you can see how some of the enthusiasm might have been a bit more muted than necessary...when as it turned out, every little bit mattered.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 04 Oct 2017 #permalink

One argument for voting for Stein or other third parties- it forces the parties to move towards your positions.

Suppose the Greens keep voting for their candidate and tilting the election to the Republicans in a close race. They keep doing it even after having it pointed out what they are doing. What would liberals do? They would be forced to run a candidate closer to the Green line to get those 2% votes they need to win. They might even abandon their own candidate and vote Green, given the stakes. All Greens have to do it refuse to vote Dem and let Republicans win some elections. Applies for LIbertarians as well.

@Jesse #36

Good commentary, Jesse. A lot of what you say there rings true. These things are never black and white, and you can't say any one thing by itself would have tipped the balance.

But 3rd party candidates do suck votes away from the Dems if they are left-leaning, and from the Rethuglicans if they are to the right. If that tips the balance in a few key states...

A preference voting system would solve that problem, where votes could be transferred from one candidate to another. You put a 1 next to your favourite candidate, a 2 next to your 2nd preference, etc. If your no. 1 choice gets eliminated, your vote is transferred to your no. 2 choice if they're still in the race.

But of course, that would require the biggest change to the Constitution ever. Not gonna happen anytime soon in the current political climate.

By metzomagic (not verified) on 04 Oct 2017 #permalink