A Vote For Not-Trump Is a Vote For Hillary

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Jay Nordlinger is confused at the idea that if he doesn’t vote for Donald Trump, he’s effectively voting for Hillary Clinton:

People tell me that, if I don’t vote for either Trump or Hillary, I’m voting for Hillary. My first response is, “So?” My second response is, “What are you smoking?” If it’s true that, if I don’t vote for either Trump or Hillary, I’m voting for Hillary, why isn’t it equally true that I’m voting for Trump? You see what I mean? How come Trump doesn’t get my non-vote? Why does just Hillary get it?

Am I missing something?

Perhaps it’s this: Perhaps people think that Trump has some kind of claim on my vote, because I’m a conservative (and, until earlier this week, I was a Republican)….

Let’s stop right here. I think I see the problem. If not-Trump voters are distributed randomly, the effect would indeed be small. That’s what happened with Ross Perot in 1992. But if millions of people who otherwise would have voted for the Republican nominee are defecting, then the effect is large and decidedly non-random. You really are effectively voting for Hillary since there’s no plausible third-party candidate to take votes away from her.

And it doesn’t even take millions. Ralph Nader effectively elected George W. Bush in 2000 with only a few thousand votes in Florida. It wasn’t his intent, and the odds against it were high, but nonetheless that’s how it worked out.

This is all predicated on the fact that Nordlinger almost certainly votes for Republicans most of the time and for Republican presidential candidates all the time. I’m pretty sure that’s true. And if millions of formerly loyal Republicans stay away from the polls or vote for Gary Johnson or just leave their ballots blank, then Hillary is a shoo-in. I kinda hate to be the one making this case, but there’s really no way around this.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate