Red State Privilege

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, August 1, 2016

With the Democratic National Convention failing to convince many Bernie Sanders supporters and Donald Trump detractors that Hillary Clinton should be the next president, third party candidates are getting more consideration than during more election years. This week, there seems to be a concerted effort on the part of the Hillary campaign to hammer home the message that voting for Governor Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party or Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein is throwing away your vote and risking four years of President Trump.

This argument, however, fails to consider the outdated quagmire of the Electoral College.

No matter what happens in the next 100 days, Donald Trump will get 173 electoral votes from 21 states. There is a fraction of a percent chance that the voters of Kentucky, Wyoming, Alabama, Nebraska, and Mississippi will throw their support behind Hillary Clinton in November.*

Because the popular vote is meaningless, there's no reason for progressives in Alaska, Montana, and Tennessee not to support Stein. And disgruntled Republicans upset that their party has abandoned fiscal conservatism can feel free to cast a ballot of Johnson. Ultimately, Trump will win Kansas and its six electoral votes. But while the outcome is the same, the message is different if he wins by a margin of 68-32 versus one of 54-20-18-8.

Yes, there are states where voting matters. If I lived in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or North Carolina, I might be more open to the idea that my vote for Stein or Johnson could be the difference maker. But I live in Arizona and have what could be considered Red State privilege that comes from knowing my vote is a meaningless drop in a bucket if I cast it for the big two parties.

While FiveThirtyEight currently says there's a 27% chance Clinton could win our 11 electoral votes, I have no doubt we'll see those odds narrow as November approaches. Trump will lose in Tucson and Phoenix, but a combination of suppression of Hispanic and black votes along with overwhelming GOP support in rural parts of the state will far outweigh Clinton's narrow victories in the big cities.

Everything I've said holds true as well in blue enclaves like Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and California, which Clinton can already safely count in her march to the White House. Roughly 80 of American voters have indicated they'd like a viable third party option. Coincidentally, about 80% of states know months, even years before a presidential election that voters' choices won't matter. This election could be an opportunity to change both.

*Not for nothing, many of the states that are solidly in Trump's win column are states Clinton won by wide margins in the primary. In the ensuing months her supporters used that as a reason to urge Sanders out of the race. Sanders correctly pointed out that no Democratic candidate would win the deep red South, so her wins there would be immaterial in the general election.

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