Swing States Won’t Matter When Bernie Runs as an Independent, and Why He’d Win the Election.

The Media and Clinton campaign has tried one last ditch effort to coerce the Bernie-or-Busters into kowtowing to the preordained queen.  This attempt is the “Don’t Split the Vote” slogan.  Remembering the wounds of the Florida debacle in 2000 (and wrongfully blaming it on Nader), the Dems are freaking scared of Sanders emerging as a third party independent candidate.

However, times have changed since Nader, Gore, and Bush.  Nader’s campaign never had this kind of traction.  The Bernie Bus has the overwhelming support of independents, half the democrats, and even a sliver of life-long republicans.  The Vermont Populist has mastered the art of small donor contributions, and he found the fuse of the Millennials (which have overtaken the Boomers in terms of population).

That got me thinking.  “Splitting the vote” only pertains to the swing states.  At first glance, a mildly-supported third party candidate would ding the party frontrunners, much like Perot did to the Republicans.  It would make initial sense to assume Sanders would do the same to the Democrats.  However this assumption is wrong.  Perot was a fringe candidate, but no matter how badly the MSM wants to paint Bernie as a “fringe” option now, earning more states than Hillary and nearly half the Democratic Primary vote, as well as polling statistically-even nationally with the “frontrunner,” is the direct opposite of “fringe.”

So what would a contest of three solid presidential candidates look like?  First off, throw out the two-party election playbook.  The red-ish swing states would not matter.  Ohio, Florida, and Indiana….irrelevant.  The deep red states are out of the equation as well.  In fact, paradoxically, in a contest with two left-wing candidates facing a conservative, the blue states would be the battleground arenas.  Sad to say for the Republicans, but even a split liberal vote in the big ticket azul states would result in a loss for them.  New York, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey would be decisive slices of the pie.

Ultimately, the most important part of a Sanders independent run would be the small blue states.  Like how W and Rove engineered the small red states to his count in 2000 and 2004 (which disproportionately awarded him more electoral votes than the population, which BTW he lost), Sanders will win the small blue states like Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, etc.  Using this electoral college disproportion to his advantage, Sanders would easily scoop up these smaller blue states and accelerate his electoral college count.  These states, combined with the big ticket blue states, will not just beat Clinton but also Trump in the main election if he runs as an independent.

Here is the math to test this theory.  All of the data was collected and is based on scientific studies and demographics from reputable sources.  To further escalate things, those numbers have conservatively constricted against Senator Sanders, as to not allow any bias to infiltrate the analysis.

The hypothesis is this:  Given a significant independent population favoring Sanders, given nearly half of Democrats have already voted for him in the primaries and would likely continue that support in the presidential contest, and given a small sliver of conservative voters are vocally advocating for Sanders over Trump, these three factions would award Sanders the majority of the blue states, thus winning the electoral count over Clinton and Trump.

The numbers used as follows:

It has been well reported that 43% of presidential election voters are now considered Independents.  In my calculations, I conservatively used 35%.

I used a percentage of 70% of Independents would vote for Sanders in the Main, which is very conservative considering the recent polling.  I awarded 20% and 10% of Independents would vote for Trump and Clinton, respectively.

To get a base number with which to start, the 2008 presidential election numbers were used.  It was the most recent contest to have both parties running non-incumbent candidates.  These numbers do not take into account party gain and losses (addressed further in this article) since 2008, but they just offer up a starting point and proportionality between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

To determine the percentage of Democrats who would vote for Sanders is based entirely on primary percentages with a conservative offset.  For example, in Nevada, Sanders only received 47.3% of the primary vote.  That percentage will be used in determining his “Potential Democrat Vote” relative to the entire registered Democrat vote.

The following Independents percentages are conservatively assumed for each of the primary types in the Democratic contest:  Closed Primaries had on average 15% Re-registered Independents, Semi-Closed Primaries had 25% Re-registered Independents, and Open Primaries had 45% Independent participation.

To determine conservative voter cross-over calculations, only 5% crossover (for Sanders) was used.  This is quite small considering recent reports.

Lastly, since some of the contests have not yet conducted their Democratic primaries yet, the following predictions were made.  (Note, ultimately these predictions play very little role in the overall calculation, especially considering most of these states have semi- and closed primaries which exclude most independents.) Sanders Wins: CA: 58%, PA: 50%, RI: 60%, CT: 58%, NJ: 60%, NM: 53%, OR: 70%.  Sanders Losses:  DC: 40%, MD: 48%, DE: 45%

Applying all these values to the hypothesis leads to the following results.  In the map below, the states colored blue would represent projected wins for Sanders in a third party campaign in the 2016 Presidential Election:



By winning these states, Sanders would earn 272 electoral votes, thus winning the presidency.  Originally, I was planning on calculating all the states because I figured (wrongly) that in a three-way race, no one candidate would obtain all enough to win outright.  But once Sanders locked in the blue states, only a handful of northern blue-purple northern states had to be won to shoot the moon.

The projected numbers are calculated in more detail here, but here is the summary in a smaller table:



In many contests, the numbers are very close.  That is predictably likely in a race with three strong potential frontrunners.  Remember, this analysis is using VERY CONSERVATIVE numbers to come to these conclusions.  I could have been much more generous with numbers in favor of Sanders, but I kept them at the lowest bounds of current demographics and reporting.  I urge anyone to review the more detailed spreadsheet of numbers and comment below if there are any errors or assumptions out of the ordinary.

Projected Sanders Third Party Independent, Democrat, and Cross-over Republican Voter Calculations, By State, 2016


That leaves a few questions and concerns.

Why wouldn’t conservative Trump opposition vote for Hillary instead of Sanders?  Since the former first lady has been on the conservative radar, she has been the most divisive and controversial political figure since her husband.  They have made their mind up about the Clintons long long long ago, and will never hold their nose to cross the isle and pull the lever for the dreaded Slick Willie Wifey.  That would suggest that many disgruntled conservatives would vote for the Libertarian candidate or conduct a protest vote for Sanders, considering his stances on less military spending and destroying corporate welfare would appeal to a conservative demographic sick of wasteful government spending.

In the analysis, why does Sanders win in states for the presidency where he lost to Clinton in the primary?  Most of these blue states are closed or semi-closed primaries.  That means most of the independent vote had been excluded, and even when states have a moderately easy path for re-registration, that only amounts to a sliver of actual independent influence on the primary results.  Even with a big loss to Hillary in the New York primary, because of the state’s notoriously-early registration deadline and exclusion of independents, it is very counter-intuitive but likely Sanders would win the state over both Trump and Clinton in the main election.

What was not added here (and might end up in a follow-up article) is the factor of new voters from the Millennial camp to augment the numbers even more in Sanders’ favor.  Compound that with the morbid fact that the Republican base is dying off, weakening the GOP estimations in this calculation.  Also, in the analysis, it uses percentages of primary results from states who held their caucus and primary early in the campaign when Sanders was more unknown, and since then, those proportionalities may have further shifted in his favor in contrast to Clinton, which would also aide his presidential bid.   Lastly, I do not know how a “blue-battleground” contest would equate to greater turnouts in the Main (relative to typical apathetic turnout in a traditional bi-partisan presidential election), but assuming the blue states would stay proportionate between Sanders and Clinton, it would only serve to further dwarf Trump’s dwindling numbers in these states.  All of these would suggest that Sanders would fair even better than my analysis, but since this analysis already reached the requisite 270 electoral votes even with conservative calculations based on real demographics, at the moment, that does not seem necessary.

The main point here is Sanders is not “Splitting the Vote.”  His independent candidacy, assuming he runs as one if he is not awarded the nomination, would result in a successful presidential bid, not a “Nadering” of the Democratic vote.  The Hillary campaign can harp on about how this will lose unity in the party, but the only people spreading lies, false-truths, and lack of unity are HRC representatives and herself.  Her claim that a third party Bernie run would ruin Democratic chances in the Main; actually, Sanders would win the blue states, Trump would win the red, and there would be nothing left for Clinton in between.

It does not ruin Democratic Party chances.  It does not ruin progressives chances.   It just ruins her chances.


——— Nicholas Pisca is founder of 0001D, and can be found at Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Before you get all into a huff, he probably has less in common with you and even less with your enemies. So at least you got that.



16 thoughts on “Swing States Won’t Matter When Bernie Runs as an Independent, and Why He’d Win the Election.

  1. If we can’t get Bernie to go indy, Jill Stein is an option, but Gary Johnson might be a better option since he will be on all 50 ballots and is already polling in double digits. He’s a two-term governor from New Mexico. If he can get to the debates he might have a fighting chance with the Clump un-favorables. We get a lot from Johnson that Bernie was for. Gary Johnson: Governing experience. Sound policy. No wars. No Walls. No FBI. No Scandals. No Corruption. No Oligarchy. All 50 ballots. ‪#GaryJohnson2016 ‪#DumpClump

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like where you’re going with the analysis, and you are spot on about New York. That rationale would also hold for Iowa and Nevada and possibly Missouri.

    But the states you are projecting a Bernie win for only add up to 266. He needs one more state anywhere that has four or more votes.

    Not to mention that if a right-wing third party candidate emerges, it would put all the purple states- and a handful of red states- into play.

    The only thing that could stop this scenario is the fact that the Democratic Party controls the vote count in blue states and would simply continue the voter suppression tactics that stole them the nomination. 😦


  3. I like your analysis, however I think using a blanket 35% of voters being independent might be problematic. For example in 2008 only 25% of voters in New York identified as Indy this would throw your calculations off a bit. I feel like you need to calculate these states individually based on historical indy voting patterns.


    1. Perhaps an individual state calculation would be a good idea for a future article. But with regards to your 35% statement, the current accepted value for independent percentages is actually as high as 43%. In fact, just yesterday, a new poll just stated that number to be as high as 45%. So I think 35% is quite conservative on the whole. Thanks for the suggestion about the state calculations and I’ll begin the research.


    2. I am not sure if you are using self reported identification or registration results. But I would argue that in states which have closed primaries, like New York, They are less likely to register as indy, because they get shut out of the primary process. But more detailed state breakdown on independent voters would be more valuable, and to see which way they lean.


  4. Some of your electoral college numbers appear to be off. According to US.gov, the following numbers are: NY has 29. PA has 20. IL has 20. WA has 12. MA has 11. MI has 16. NJ has 14. NV has 6. Using these corrected numbers, that only comes to 266 electoral votes.


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