Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Liveblogging the Election

12:41 AM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 12:30 AM (out of 97,373,992 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 0.9%
Stein (Green), 0.3%
Goode (Constitution), 0.09%
Anderson (Justice), 0.03%

This will be my last update of the evening. With over 97 million votes counted, there will still be more returns (and likely more wins for third party candidates since most of the uncounted votes are in the third party-leaning western states). But the race is beginning to wind down. The data has stayed basically the same over the past hour. The thing to watch into the morning is to see whether or not Gary Johnson can get over 1% of the national popular vote. And if he gets over 1.1% he will have the best-ever showing for a Libertarian Party presidential candidate. But at this moment it is not clear whether he will cross that barrier.

More updates to come in the following days... Thanks for reading.

12:06 AM: Gary Johnson wins county in Kansas?
I wasn't sure if a third party candidate could win any counties this year, but yes, it has happened! According to the New York Times, Gary Johnson won Marshall County in northeastern Kansas with an amazing 66.7% of the vote. Is that for real??

12:46 AM Update: Whoops. Looks like the New York Times messed up. In fact, it was Romney who won Marshall county with 66.7% of the vote, not Johnson.

11:41 PM: What's Going on in Virginia?
With 93% of the vote tallied, Obama is up by only 9,000 votes in Virginia. Gary Johnson is holding 27,251 votes, which would make him a "spoiler." Virgil Goode is also holding 12,464 votes, which would make him a "spoiler," too. Even Jill Stein, at nearly 8,000 votes, is close to "spoiling" the race, although she couldn't really "spoil" it if Obama wins, right? :)

11:35 PM: Has Obama actually won Ohio?
All the TV networks and NPR have called the election for Barack Obama. This is because they believe he has won Ohio. But Obama is only up by 30,000 votes in Ohio right now with only 76% of votes tallied. Gary Johnson, meanwhile, has nearly 40,000 votes. So even if Obama does eventually actually win Ohio tonight, what will be the narrative about Gary Johnson's 0.9% of the vote? Will the GOP blame him for "spoiling" Romney's chances in the state? Many folks are going to bed now, but the really interesting narrative about what happened in Ohio is just beginning...

11:20 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 11 PM (out of 45,013,013 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 0.9%
Stein (Green), 0.3%
Goode (Constitution), 0.08%
Anderson (Justice), 0.02%

One hour later, with 45 million votes tallied, Johnson is up, Stein is up, Goode is up another little bit of a percentage point, and Anderson is holding steady. I am a little worried about the quality of this data, though. Some of the data I was using was posted earlier but then was retracted. I am not sure why that is. Every hour I am updating the data, though... 
Also, I think what I predicted before is proving to be true, which is that third party candidates are receiving more support in the western states rather than the eastern ones. This might explain why we are seeing Johnson and Stein's shares of the popular vote going up now.

10:45 PM: It All Comes Down to Florida?
An hour later and Florida is still the closest race in the country right now. Obama is up by about 40,000 votes. Gary Johnson currently holds 40,187 votes. If this was it, Obama's margin of victory would just barely overcome Johnson's share of the vote, so Romney would not be able to cry "spoiler" over Johnson. Obama is up by 0.6 percentage points and Johnson holds 0.5% of the vote. Almost 90% of the votes have been counted. If things stay as they are, Obama will win it.

10:18 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 10 PM (out of 35,754,495 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 0.8%
Stein (Green), 0.2%
Goode (Constitution), 0.07%
Anderson (Justice), 0.02%

Out of over 35 million votes cast, it is becoming apparent that well over 1% of voters this year have voted for a third party candidate. Since last hour, Gary Johnson's share of the vote has increased 1/10 of one percent up to 0.8%. Stein is holding steady at 0.2%. Goode and Anderson are both up very slightly. 

9:34 PM: Florida, oh, Florida!
Florida is a mess right now. With 75% of the votes counted, the only difference between Obama and Romney is about 5,000 votes. How are the third party candidates doing? Gary Johnson has over 35,000 votes. Spoiler? Jill Stein has over 7,000 votes. Spoiler? Roseanne Barr, former TV star and comedian, has nearly 7,000 votes! Spoiler? If anything, Florida in 2012 is going to prove what we already learned in the same state in 2000: that third parties matter. I've got a lot of respect for those Floridians who have the courage to vote their conscience and vote third party, despite knowing that their neighbors are going to hate them tomorrow over this! :)

9:24 PM: Gary Johnson and New Mexico
The polls in New Mexico just closed, and it behooves us to take a closer look at the results there. That's because Gary Johnson was once the Governor of New Mexico; as it is his home state, he is expected to do quite well there. Currently, with 15% of the vote counted, Obama has a solid lead (over 10 percentage points) over Romney. But Johnson is also doing well; he is holding 3.5% of the vote. If the Obama-Romney race tightens and if Johnson makes gains, New Mexico could possibly be in play as a "spoiler" state.

9:17 PM: Gary Johnson and North Carolina
With over 40% of the vote counted, it looks as if North Carolina might actually end up a "spoiler" state for Gary Johnson. At least that's a possibility. Currently Romney leads Obama there by less than 40,000 votes. Gary Johnson has won almost 25,000 votes. In other terms, Romney is ahead by 1.2 percentage points while Johnson currently holds 0.8% of the vote. This is not quite in "spoiler" territory yet, but this race could be interesting.

9:02 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 8:45 PM (out of 17,585,619 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 0.7%
Stein (Green), 0.2%
Goode (Constitution), 0.06%
Anderson (Justice), 0.01%

There are so many states in play now that with this report I begin to update the Popular Vote Tracker only once an hour (rather than twice an hour). With almost 18 million votes counted, Johnson holds steady. Stein has jumped up to a solid 0.2% from 0.1%. Goode is up just a bit. Anderson is down just a bit. Overall, these numbers are lower than I expected, but we need to take into account that support for third party candidates is historically highest in the U.S. West, not in the East. So I predict these numbers will be going up as the night continues.

8:37 PM: Gary Johnson and Florida
Right now the closest race in the nation is in Florida. With over 30% of the votes in, Obama and Romney are only about 10,000 votes apart. Meanwhile, Gary Johnson has over 20,000 votes. To put it another way, the difference between Obama and Romney right now in the state of Florida is 0.2 percentage points, and Gary Johnson's share of the vote is at 0.5%. This is a race to watch!

8:27 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 8:15 PM (out of 7,852,375 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 0.7%
Stein (Green), 0.1%
Goode (Constitution), 0.05%
Anderson (Justice), 0.02%

With about half of the states in play now, it is taking a lot longer to tabulate all this data. Almost 8 million votes have been counted so far. Johnson and Stein's respective shares of the vote are stable. But we see that Virgil Goode and Rocky Anderson are very, very slowly inching up in their share of the popular vote as well.

8:09 PM: Will New Hampshire Live Free, or Die?
New Hampshire is supposedly a haven for libertarians. Its state motto is "Live Free or Die." Gary Johnson's campaign slogan is "Live Free." As more and more results start to come in from New Hampshire, Gary Johnson is holding steady at 1.8% of the vote there. But if the difference between Obama and Romney in New Hampshire ends up being less than Johnson's overall catch, Johnson will be labeled a "spoiler." Then will we see New Hampshireans reconsider their love for all things "liberty"? Or will they welcome Johnson and embrace the Libertarian Party as their own?

7:54 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 7:45 PM (out of 3,155,344 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 0.7%
Stein (Green), 0.1%
Goode (Constitution), 0.03%
Anderson (Justice), 0.01%

Finally, Virgil Goode and Rocky Anderson are on the map, both having picked up a few votes in Florida tonight. Jill Stein is holding steady at 0.1% of the national vote. Gary Johnson has taken a big hit since thirty minutes ago. This is, I think, largely because about 2/3 of the 3 million votes counted so far are all from one state: Florida. And so far Johnson only has 0.4% of the vote in that state.

7:38 PM: Three More States
Polls just closed in three more states (as of 7:30 PM): North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. All eyes of course will be on Ohio all night long...including mine. If ever there was a possibly serious "spoiler" state, it is Ohio.

7:31 PM: Who will Spoil Virginia?
This is a good question to ask while watching the Virginia results coming in. If the race is tight, both Gary Johnson and Virgil Goode each have the potential to win more votes than the difference between Obama and Romney. In such an event it will be quite fascinating to see who gets labeled the "spoiler." Virginia happens to be Goode's home state. But Johnson may likely be a "spoiler" elsewhere, meaning that he will get more media attention for his overall "spoiling." Remember that in 2000 it wasn't just Ralph Nader who won more votes in Florida than the difference between Bush and Gore; practically every third party candidate in that state won more than the difference between Bush and Gore. So how come Nader got the "spoiler" label and the other candidates, like Pat Buchanan, were let off the hook??

Presently, Johnson has claimed 0.8% of the vote in Virginia and Goode has 0.3%.

7:19 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 7:15 PM (out of 224,815 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 1.5%
Stein (Green), 0.1%
Goode (Constitution), 0%
Anderson (Justice), 0%

Johnson and Stein are both up a bit from where they were thirty minutes ago.

7:09 PM: Indiana and the Libertarian
Actually not much happening yet in the 7 PM states... But back in Indiana, where 3% of the vote has been tallied so far, Gary Johnson is still doing quite well. He currently has 1.8% of the vote there.

7:01 PM: Open the Floodgates!
Polls have just closed in six states: Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.
Plus there are two more (that are now totally finished): Indiana and Kentucky.
Lots of data is going to come pouring in. Yikes!

6:48 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As of 6:45 PM (out of 105,861 total votes cast):
Johnson (Libertarian), 1.4%
Stein (Green), 0.07%
Goode (Constitution), 0%
Anderson (Justice), 0%

6:36 PM: Indiana and Kentucky
Right now a very small number of votes are being tallied in two states: Indiana and Kentucky.

Anything worth watching here in term of third parties? Yes. Interestingly enough. In 2008, the Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr had his best performance of any state in Indiana. He won over 1% of the popular vote there. (You can see the high level of Libertarian support in Indiana very clearly in the map I've posted at "Mapping the Election.")

The question tonight is: how will Gary Johnson do in Indiana? We'll have to wait and see, but as of right now he is currently at 1.4% of the vote in that state, better than Barr in 2008.

6:20 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
As results trickle in from Indiana and Kentucky, I thought I'd give the number-crunching a shot just to see how long it takes me to aggregate all the data. I estimate that by the time I can post the data here, it will be about 10-15 minutes old.

Anyway, here it is as of 6:15 PM EST:

Johnson (Libertarian), 1.0%
Stein (Green), 0.2%
Goode (Constitution), 0%
Anderson (Justice), 0%

5:50 PM: Five Things to Watch For — Plus One More
As we await the 6 PM hour (when some results from a few states might start trickling in?), I thought I would re-cap the "Five Things to Watch For on Election Day" that I wrote a few weeks ago. Here they are:

1) Best Libertarian Party Performance Ever?
In a nutshell, the best Libertarian Party performance in a presidential election occurred in 1980 when Ed Clark won just over 1% of the national popular vote. He did not win any states in the electoral college. Clark's 1% seems like a small hurdle for this year's candidate, Gary Johnson, to exceed. I predict Johnson will easily give the Libertarians their best performance ever tonight.

2) Best Constitution Party Performance Ever?
Basically, a Constitution Party presidential candidate has never won more than 1/5 of one percent of the national popular vote. This year's candidate, Virgil Goode, has a shot at passing that barrier and giving the Constitution Party their best performance ever.

3) Best Green Party Performance since Nader [2000]?
Nader won about 2.7% of the national popular vote in 2000. Since then the most successful Green presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney, won only 0.12% of the popular vote in 2008. This year's candidate, Jill Stein, should easily exceed McKinney's results, but probably will not match Nader's successes of 2000. 

4) Spoiler States?
The question really is not "if," but "how many"? In 2000 when Nader was declared "Spoiler Extraordinaire," he actually won more votes than the difference between Bush and Gore in only two states: New Hampshire and Florida. Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian Candidate, might surpass Nader's level of "spoilerhood" tonight. It all depends on how many "swing states" end up being really tight races. If the difference between Obama and Romney is less than 1% in at least three or more states, then I predict Johnson will outdo Nader's "spoilerhood" of 2000. Get ready for the hand-wringing and whining about third parties all over again! :)

5) Death of the Two-Party Paradigm?
It's a good question, but I would safely say the answer tonight is: No. Not yet. It will take much more time and hard work.

Tonight I am adding one more thing to watch for:

6) Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party?
Once in a while a political party is formed simply as a vehicle for a particular "celebrity" candidate. Ross Perot had the Reform Party in 1996. And so Rocky Anderson has the Justice Party in 2012. The history of the Reform Party tells us that when the "celebrity" candidate retires, the party soon falls apart; by the early 2000s, the Reform Party had largely disappeared on the national scene. So how will Mr. Anderson's Justice Party perform tonight? Will the Justice Party have legs, so to speak, or will it disappear as quickly as it appeared?

For more on my "Five Things to Watch For on Election Day," please read the original post here.

4:53 PM: Third Party Support in the U.S. House
Earlier today I posted some historical data on third party support for U.S. senatorial candidates over the past three decades. The graph above shows the corresponding data for the U.S. House.

What is immediately apparent from the data is that since about 1990, 4-6% of the popular vote has been the "normal" catch for third parties in the U.S. House popular vote. This is much improved from the overall third party performance in the 1980s. Another clear trend is the steady growth seen in support for U.S. House candidates from all major third parties, including the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties.

Things to watch for tonight? Will the Libertarian Party beat its former best of 1.6% of the popular vote (achieved in 2000) in this year's house races? Will Greens top their 2008 performance and break the 0.5% barrier in 2012? Will the Constitution Party continue its (quite) slow growth, or will it stall out at 1/10 of 1 percent?

Just as in the U.S. Senate, it is important to note that no third party candidate has actually won a seat in the U.S. House since around the 1940s or '50s.

To understand the differences between third party support way back in the 1940s versus today, I figured I would graph the whole thing (or as much as I have data for) from 1942 to the present. (I have excluded noting the actual third parties on the graph from the 1940s and 50s, but they were the American Labor Party, the Progressive Party, and the Farmer-Labor Party, mostly...):
What I find most interesting about the above data are two things: 1) that support for third party candidates was so low from the 1950s through the 1980s (perhaps a reflection of Cold War politics?), and 2) that support for third party candidates is at an all-time high (well, at least since 1942) now.

2:45 PM: Popular Vote Tracker
One of the tools I will unveil tonight I call the "popular vote tracker." As each state's results come in I will keep a running tally of the percentage of the popular vote that each of four major third party presidential candidates is receiving. (Those candidates are Gary Johnson [Libertarian], Jill Stein [Green], Virgil Goode [Constitution], and Rocky Anderson [Justice].)

I was just reading an article at npr.org and discovered (to my great surprise) that at least two towns in New Hampshire have already finished voting today! And, despite NPR's "Incoming Results" page which erroneously lists only Obama's and Romney's share of the popular vote, everyone should know that Gary Johnson also received one vote in New Hampshire this morning. (That's one vote out of 43 cast.)

So, here is the popular vote tracker as of 2:45 PM on Election Day:

Obama (Democrat), 65%
Romney (Republican), 33%
Johnson (Libertarian), 2.3%
Stein (Green), 0%
Goode (Constitution), 0%
Anderson (Justice), 0%

2:52 PM Update: Some sources are reporting Gary Johnson actually got two votes this morning. That would place his share of the popular vote at 4.7%.

1:21 PM: Third Party Support in the U.S. Senate
In anticipation of the polls closing this evening, let's not forget that there are more races worth watching tonight than just the presidential race. Across all fifty states, candidates from various political parties (including many third parties) are vying for seats in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

The above graph charts the level of third party support over the past 28 years (or over the past 14 election cycles) for U.S. senatorial candidates. The thick black line shows the total third party share of the popular vote for senatorial candidates. As you can see, support for third party candidates has increased on a whole over the past three decades. In 2010, a peak of 6.65% of voters selected third party candidates for the U.S. Senate. Of course, no third party candidate has actually won a seat in the senate in at least half a century (although many independent candidates have been more successful).

Things to watch for tonight? I don't expect any third party candidate to actually win a seat this year. But will the Libertarian Party best its previous record of 1.75% of the popular vote in 2002? Will the Green Party break the 1% barrier that has eluded them for two decades? Will the Constitution Party continue its slow but steady growth?

It will take a few more days to crunch the 2012 senate data after it comes in tonight. When it is ready, I will definitely post an updated version of the graph above.

8:55 AM: Welcome
Starting at 6 PM EST I will be liveblogging the U.S. presidential election. I'll be focusing on two things all night: 1) analyzing the results of third party candidates, and 2) placing those results within a historical context. Feel free to check-in throughout the night for interesting charts and data and discussion. Also feel free to leave your comments or questions below and I will do my best to address them throughout the evening.

In the meantime, feel free to read my previous posts about the election:
Five Things to Watch For on Election Day / Will Our Democracy Survive? (October 20)
Mapping the Election (October 24


  1. Thanks for doing this! I voted for Stein and I'm glad I have somewhere to see how well she did.

  2. Thanks, FireCoral. Personally, I voted for Stein, too. If you let me know what state you voted for Stein in, I'd be happy to look up more information there on how she is doing. I voted for her in New York, so we should be seeing those results appear any moment now.

  3. I voted for her in Florida! Just saw your comments on that. Yes, everyone here hated me before I even knew how close this race was going to be. But it's very important to me, personally, to vote for whom I *want* to vote for; rather than the illusion of choice between the Big 2. My views matches Jill's 88%, as opposed to Obama, whom I only matched about 67% with. Those were my top 2 regarding how we agree on the many issues at stake this term. If Romney wins by popular vote, then he wins! That's how a vote it supposed to work! I do not need to vote for Obama just because I don't want Romney to win. I want Stein to win, so that's why I voted for her. But I am rooting for Obama 8)

  4. FireCoral: I totally agree with your rationale. I think it is most important to vote for who you really want to win, not just the "lesser of two evils." We'll see if your friends in Florida have just cause to hate you later tonight (or tomorrow morning whenever we figure this out!). I'm predicting if it is very close in FL, Gary Johnson is going to take all the heat as the "spoiler," not Jill.

    1. Yes, I agree that Johnson will most likely get the attention. It's no concern of mine who gets the attention. Just that *someone* gets it. I have a feeling that even if Obama loses Florida, he will get California which will give him an overall win to Romney. Your prediction of third party voters in Cali has me intrigued, though. I haven't been this close to the edge of my seat since 2000... probably even more this time than before.

  5. Also, just wanted to point out exactly what you said: One of the reasons I voted third party in a swing state is because *somebody* has to prove that third parties deserve recognition. We have to start voting for who we believe in no matter how close we think the election is going to be. I knew full-well going into the polls that Stein did not have a chance. But I voted for her because I wanted her to be President. AND I voted for her because I wanted enough people to make headlines for third parties this term. My hope is that the newsrooms will make a fuss over the amount of third party voters. If that can happen, then maybe, just maybe, next term people will start looking into other options for President and make this a REAL race for President, rather than a 50/50 shot.

  6. Nice. I wish I could "like" your last response, but blogger does not allow me to do that. So I'm just saying "like." :)

  7. Can you post raw numbers for Goode nationwide? I havent seen any (google doesnt have them).

  8. Hi Trent. Sure thing. By my count, as of 12:30 AM, Goode received 89,513 votes nationwide. As I just noted above, that puts him just below 1/10 of one percent of the national popular vote. Hope he bumps up a little bit more as more votes are counted in the western states. Did you vote for Goode?

  9. Curious to knows Jill's final total, nationwide. Does your data include the write-in states? Have those votes been completely counted?

  10. Hi. Good question about the write-ins for Jill. I don't think I have a grasp on that data yet...so, for now, no, my data is just from states where the third party candidates were officially on the ballot. As I just responded on facebook, I will get around to tabulating Jill's final total sometime tomorrow and will post it. Thanks again for reading!