As the presidential race nears its climax, a surprise vote for a third party candidate could be just the thing to upset Clinton’s and Trumps grandiose plans

 

After a week of Clinton scandals, the election is narrowing and both candidates need to hold onto every Electoral College seat they can get. The emergence of a third party candidate in Utah is making this difficult and could be the one to stand in the way of the White House.

Utah state has a strong Mormon population, who usually vote for Republican candidates that sell themselves on their religious values. Trump lacks the strong Christian values that typically appeal to these Utah voters and so they have moved their support elsewhere: Evan McMullin. Polling has shown him running even with both Clinton and Trump, creating a tight three-person race. Evan McMullin stands for the core conservative values of the Republican Party that have been lost in this election.

Third party candidates face a huge struggle to gain any success in the presidential race. A third party candidate hasn’t won a single electoral vote since George Wallace in 1968. One only needs to look at Gary Johnson and Jill Stein’s current standings in the polls (both less than 5 per cent) to see the limited opportunities for success in America’s strong two-party system.

However, McMullin, has the possibility to hugely shake up election night. Unlike Johnson and Stein, he is not even pretending to attempt to win any great amount of the vote. Yet despite only having recognition in one state essentially, he has a greater chance to cause some upset on Tuesday than these other two candidates.

Utah has six Electoral College votes up for grabs, and McMullin stands a decent chance of taking these. With the election tightening up, every vote counts in order to get to the magic 270. In what could go down as the greatest upset of any election, McMullin taking these six votes could mean that neither Trump or Clinton manage to win a majority of Electoral College votes.

If nobody wins an outright majority then it goes to the House of Representatives to decide a tie break. The way this works is not that every representative gets a vote, but every state does. Unlike the Electoral College vote, every state is equally weighted. Simply going by the ideological leaning of states in the House of Representatives, there are more Republican states than Democratic ones. In any other election, this tie-break scenario would surely mean that the Republican nominee wins the White House.

However, in the plot twists of all plot twists, it is possible that the Republicans won’t necessarily back Trump. It is no secret that there is huge amount of opposition within the GOP itself. In a tie-break vote scenario, it is possible that some Republican states may vote for a third party candidate or even Clinton, just to prevent Trump from getting to the White House.

Whilst this scenario is very hypothetical — an election hasn’t been decided by the House since 1824 — it is a situation worth thinking about. Third party candidates are typically unsuccessful at gaining a significant number of electoral votes, but they have been known to cause some upset in elections. In 2000, Ralph Nader stole votes away from Gore, which is often attributed as the reason why the election was so tight and Bush ultimately won.

With an election looking like it is anyone’s game, a third party candidate taking electoral votes could cause considerable upset.

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