I have seen quite a few posts and comments on Facebook indicating that if Obama won this election (which he did), it would be the fault of all those people who chose to vote for neither Romney nor Obama, mostly the people who are believed to have otherwise voted for Romney. Living in a swing state (Colorado) I have been entreated by several people to please not throw my vote away and be the reason Obama got another four years. I have also been the recipient of very harsh words to that effect.
As soon as the election was called at about ten o’clock Mountain time last night, pro-life activist Abby Johnson wrote an angry post blaming third party voters for Romney’s loss, and I quickly saw several comments and other posts to that effect. The election was so close, they claimed, that third party voters ruined it for everyone.
But did we?
Using this election map as my source, mainly because it accounts for all votes for “other,” not just votes for Gary Johnson, I made up a simple Excel spreadsheet where I recorded the votes for Obama, Romney and “Other” in all the states where Obama won. Then I added the votes for “Other” to the votes for Romney, making the generous and faulty assumption that every single person in every single blue state who voted for “Other” would have voted for Romney instead. Below is a screen shot of my table.
As you can see from the table, had every vote that went to “Other” instead been cast for Romney, Obama would have still won in all the blue states except for Florida, where the results were actually close enough that all “other” votes going to Romney would have swung Florida to Romney. So the best case scenario is that instead of losing the election with 206 electoral votes to Obama’s 303 with the Florida votes still being unassigned (probably pending ballot hand counting), Romney would have instead lost the election with 235 electoral votes to Obama’s 303.
So no, votes cast for people other than Romney did not throw the election to Obama. Rather than persisting in blaming people like me for voting for someone else, it would be more productive to consider other reasons for Obama’s victory. I will leave that up to the pundits, other than to offer the most simple explanation, which is that the GOP and Romney supporters simply failed to convince the population who voted for Obama that Romney would do a better job as president than Obama will.
UPDATE: According to my source map, Florida’s electoral votes have now been assigned to Obama, granting him the victory with 332 electoral votes with Romney getting 206. Also, another observation which has been made is that in every single blue state except Florida, Obama won by over 50% of the vote. That observation makes all my calculations extra work and confirms once again that third party voters were not the reason Obama won.