On election night, the returns for both candidates were super close. But if you read between the percentage points, it looks like it's possible that third party candidates turned the election. In some of the key battleground states, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump were just percentage points away from beating each other. But third party candidates made up the margins. The protest votes got in the way of the main candidates winning the overall vote in certain states. If you have a friend who voted for a third party candidate and are upset about the results of the election, you can blame them.
Early on in the evening, most of the states that were supposed to be close were super close. But in every state that Clinton and Trump were just a few points away from winning, there was a third party candidate whose votes made up the difference. Watching the returns, both Trump and Clinton had good turn out. But there was a strong turnout out for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Not a lot, but just enough to skew the percentage of the votes, state by state.
Of course, the votes early on vary precinct by precinct, state by state. But in many counties and states, the difference between Clinton and Trump's vote was split by support for Johnson. Look at every state that you thought was "too early to call" or was "close." In Florida, for example, Trump and Clinton were fighting over a percentage point. And Johnson had 2 percent of the vote. You can blame third party voters for the election results.
Third party voters know well before they vote that their candidate won't win in a two party system. That's what makes it frustrating for voters on an election night who are rooting for the main parties. Because, seriously?
When it comes to voting against the establishment parties, like the Democrats and Republicans in the United States, a vote for a third party candidate almost always takes away from the candidates running for the main parties. A vote for a Green Party or Libertarian Party candidate like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is great — but since they aren't in the mainstream, a vote for a third party candidate only splits the vote and makes any change sort of impossible.
It happened on Tuesday night and got between Clinton and Trump. One only has to see the margins in some of the battleground states to see how important third party votes can be. It's good for the third party voters who are making slow change. But it's bad for everyone else.