A Vote For Not-Trump Is a Vote For Hillary

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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