Are any states going to go for an independent this November?

I live in Maine. Many people here are disappointed by Bernie’s loss and are considering voting for Jill Stein in November. We have elected several independent governors, one of whom is now a senator. Many local officials in Maine have been Greens. Could Southern Maine (We can split our electoral votes, and the Northern half of the state is much more conservative) go Green instead of red or blue? Could anywhere else? I have been hearing a lot about Gary Johnson, could he get any electoral votes? I don’t think anyone is making it to 270 this year.

Nope, those who throw their vote away on a 3rd party may be very loud on social media but they’re a small minority. Maine will go for Clinton.

Vanishingly unlikely, unless there are lots of unforeseen changes between now and Nov.

There’s some data we can use to help think about the question. Here’s a look at the math.

Sanders won the Maine caucuses by 29 points. The caucuses were closed, and closed events have worked to the benefit of Clinton, so Sanders probably would have done even better had the caucuses been open. On the other hand, Maine had a caucus, not a primary, and caucuses have been even more beneficial to Sanders than open events have been to Clinton. Fivethirtyeight estimates that if Maine had had an open primary (the type of contest most likely to reflect the “will of the people”), Sanders would have won, but by just 16 points, not 29.

The 1st district of Maine was 2-3 points more favorable to Obama than the state as a whole, so since the question is about that district, let’s bump it up to 20 points: so a reasonable guess is that in a non-caucus primary where everyone could vote, Sanders would have beaten Clinton by a 60-40 margin.

Okay, there’s little reason to think that the 40 percent who chose Clinton first time out won’t do so again, so we start from the baseline that Clinton wins 40 percent of the folks who prefer either Clinton or Sanders to Trump. The polling data (not specifically from Maine) varies, but in general suggests that at least half of Sanders supporters are happy to support Clinton in the general election. Let’s assume that exactly half do. Then of this not-voting-for-Trump group, 70 percent vote for Clinton and 30 percent don’t.

Well, that’s a problem: even if everyone in that 30% goes for the Green Party ticket, clearly that’s nowhere near enough to pass Clinton. So, okay, maybe the Sanders folks in Maine are *especially *anti-Clinton. Maybe just a quarter of them will actually turn out for Clinton in the fall, and all the rest go Green. What then?

Then Clinton gets 55% of the no-Trump vote, and the Green Party gets 45%. Hmm.

For the Green Party candidate to get as many votes as Clinton in that district, five out of six Sanders voters would have to not only refuse to vote for Clinton, but would have to actively vote Green. Judging from current polling, which as you’ll recall suggests that most Sanders fans aren’t going to have any problem supporting Clinton in the fall, that’s a faintly preposterous notion. Especially because some of those 5/6 will choose to stay home, or vote Libertarian, or–and you know this is true–vote for Trump, instead of voting for the Greens.

And even if somehow Stein could draw even with Clinton, it wouldn’t matter. Obama won a little less than 60% of the vote in the 1st district last time out, so we start there. An even split of that 60% gives Stein and Clinton each 30% of the total–and leaves 40% for Trump, and 40% > 30%. In fact, even if every single Sanders supporter in this mythical open primary went Green, the electoral vote would still not go to Stein–Stein would have .6 x .6 = 36% of the vote, Clinton .4 x .6 = 24%, and Trump 1 x .4 = 40%.

So, even if all the Sanders fans could be persuaded to go Green, Sanders just is not popular enough among Democrats and Democrat-leaners in Maine, and the Dems are not numerous enough there either, to allow those voters to defeat both Clinton and Trump.

(Of course these numbers are estimates, and there are a few echt-Greens running around who would swell the Green numbers a bit…and maybe I’ve underestimated Sanders’s support in the district in question by a few points…and of course some Cruz voters might decide to stay home rather than vote Trump in the general…etc, etc, etc. But the data shows pretty clearly why winning electoral votes would be such an uphill battle for a third-party candidate, even in a state/district that you might think of as favorable to the idea.)