(ONN) Now that all of the 2016 Presidential election ballots have been counted and certified, including write-ins, we can see which opposition third parties grew, shrunk or stayed the same. With two unpopular candidates nominated by the two establishment parties – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – most of America’s third parties grew exponentially. But not all. Some opposition parties fell out of the rankings, while a slew of others joined the list.
The 2016 election proved to be a stellar moment for America’s opposition third parties. The number of people who voted third party in 2016 was three-times higher than 2012. In 2012, roughly 2 million Americans voted for a Presidential candidate other than the establishment Democrat or Republican. In 2016, that number grew to over 6 million.
2016 Rank – Political Party (2012 Rank) - 2016 Presidential Votes
1 – Libertarian Party (1) - 4,488,912
2 – Green Party (2) - 1,457,038
3 – Constitution Party (3) - 202,979
4 – Peace & Freedom Party (4) - 74,402
4 – Party for Socialism and Liberation (11) - 74,402
6 – Reform Party (8) - 33,133
7 – Legal Marijuana Now Party (N/R) - 13,546
8 – Socialist Workers Party (N/R) - 12,465
9 – Veterans Party (N/R) - 7,248
10 – American Solidarity Party (N/R) - 6,714
11 – Prohibition Party (N/R) - 5,617
12 – America’s Party (6) - 4,845
13 – Workers World Party (N/R) - 4,319
14 – American Party (N/R) - 3,246
15 – Socialist Party (14) - 2,704
As readers can see, seven new parties joined the Top 15 list since 2012. Some are brand new political parties like the Veterans Party and the American Solidarity Party. Others have been around for decades but stepped up their Presidential campaigns this time around, like the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers World Party, and the Prohibition Party. While one, the Legal Marijuana Now Party, merely changed its name from the Grassroots Party.
While there was no change in ranking among the ‘Big 3’, each of the top three opposition parties grew substantially over the past four years. The Libertarian Party’s nominee Gary Johnson received 1.27 million votes in 2012. He increased that number three-fold in 2016 to 4.48 million. The Green Party’s nominee Jill Stein also tripled her vote total over 2012 from 469,000 votes four years ago to 1.45 million in 2016. For its part, the Constitution Party nearly doubled its vote take from 122,000 in 2012 to 203,000 in 2016.
The biggest gainer in 2016 was the Legal Marijuana Now Party, which wasn’t ranked in 2012 but jumped to the 7th largest third party in America in 2016. Some of that increase can be attributed to the party’s name change from the non-descript Grassroots Party, and its efforts to expand beyond its home state of Minnesota. The second-biggest jump in rank goes to the Party for Socialism and Liberation. The party was ranked 11th in 2012. But after partnering with the Peace & Freedom Party for 2016, PSL moved up to 4th.
A number of political parties fell off the ranking list all together, most notably the Justice Party which was ranked 5th in 2012 but didn’t run a candidate in 2016. The American Freedom Party initially nominated a candidate, but instead supported Donald Trump. Likewise, the Working Families Party polled its members and decided to support Hillary Clinton rather than a third party candidate. Other parties that fell off the list all together include the American Independent Party, the Independent American Party, and the Socialist Equality Party.
The most notable declines came from America’s Party which fell from a ranking of 6th to 12th. The party’s Presidential nominee in both 2012 and 2016 was Tom Hoefling. His vote totals dropped to 4,845 this year from 40,609 four years ago. Another well known party that fell slightly was the Socialist Party. After jointly running a Presidential candidate with the Natural Law Party for 2016, their vote totals actually fell from 3,897 in 2012 to 2,704 this year.
It’s difficult to consider it a victory when only one of the fifteen opposition candidates cracked the magical glass ceiling of 5% in a handful of states, and that was the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. But not a single opposition party candidate hit the 5% mark nationally. 2016 should still be seen as the successful year that it was. Anytime America’s political opposition grows 300% in one election, it’s reason to celebrate.