Thursday 8 December 2016

Florida: The independent candidate who secured crucial victory for Trump

Siobhan Fenton

Published 09/11/2016 | 05:54

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters at the party convention in Orlando, Florida (AP)
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters at the party convention in Orlando, Florida (AP)

After all the antagonism between Trump and Clinton over the course of a bitterly fought campaign, it was the independent candidate, Gary Johnson, who ended up playing the decisive role in the 2016 election.

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Mr Trump won the swing state of Florida by an extremely narrow margin – with 49.0 per cent of votes, compared to Hillary Clinton’s vote share of 46.6 per cent. This leaves a gap of just 2.4 per cent between the two candidates.

By comparison, Mr Johnson – who famously asked "What is Aleppo?" during a TV interview – won 3.1 per cent of the vote, more than the margin of victory the Republican won by.

Florida is a key state which is seen by many as a litmus test for ascertaining who will win the White House. Trump's success in the Sunshine State is considered a huge boost to his electoral prospects.

While much the of the presidential race has been seen as a binary choice between Mr Trump or Ms Clinton, a number of other candidates are running. Mr Johnson is a libertarian, who was formerly a Republican and governor of New Mexico in 1995-2003. His main policies include reducing the number of people who are incarcerated in prisons, legalisation of marijuana and lower taxes.

Other third party candidates include Jill Stein from the Green Party, who describes herself as an “eco-Socialist” and has advocated an anti-war stance. A conservative alternative, Evan McMullin, is also running as an independent.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Reince Priebus (R) hugs Republican presidential elect Donald Trump during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
People cheer as voting results for Florida come in at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trumps election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential elect Donald Trump gestures while speaking during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. Photo: Getty
Republican presidential elect Donald Trump (L) gestures next to his family as he arrives to speak during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York
Republican president-elect Donald Trump embraces his wife Melania Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican president-elect Donald Trump embraces his wife Melania Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, delivers a speech as Republican president-elect Donald Trump looks on during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, delivers a speech as Republican president-elect Donald Trump looks on during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential elect Donald Trump (L) arrives with his family on stage to speak during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. Trump stunned America and the world Wednesday, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump gives greets people in the crowd after delivering his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Campaign chairman John Podesta speaks on stage at Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's election night event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center November 9, 2016 in New York City. Clinton is running against Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton tweeted "Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything."/ Pic via @HillaryClinton
A graphic depicting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squaring off in a boxing ring sits in Times Square on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The Trump family and team watch the results (Photo: Twitter/Donald Trump)
Jake Krupa colors in an electoral map as states projected for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump or Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at an election watching party in Coconut Grove, Florida. AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISERHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images
The dollar tumbled against the yen and euro while the Mexican peso fell off a cliff as polling results in the knife-edge US presidential race pointed to a strong showing by Donald Trump. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRIBEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
Ivanka Trump tweets: "Such a surreal moment to vote for my father for President of the United States! Make your voice heard and vote! #Election2016" Pic via Twitter/ @IvankaTrump
People watch voting results at Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's election night event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
A woman reacts as she watches voting results at Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's election night event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
People cheer at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trumps election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
An employee of a foreign exchange trading company stands in front of a monitor displaying Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican presidential nominee (Photo by Yuya Shino/Getty Images)
A police officer stands outside Trump Tower in New York City on election day November 8, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTERDOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images
People vote on the US presidential election at Santa Monica City Hall on November 8, 2016 in Santa Monica, California / AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Nicolette Janoski displays a sticker after voting on November 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Voters cast ballots at a laundrette in Chicago, Illinois Picture: AFP/Getty
People cheer as voting results for Iowa come in at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trumps election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Donald Trump’s son Eric glances across at the ballot being filled by his wife Lara Yunasska while voting at the 53rd Street Library in New York. Photo: Bloomberg
A man poses for a picture near the cardboard cutouts of U.S. presidential nominees Hillary Clinton (L) and Donald Trump, at an election event hosted at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Kathmandu, Nepal November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton react at her election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton bows her head at an election night rally in New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a Trump doll during an election night party at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, Arizona on November 8, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Laura SegallLAURA SEGALL/AFP/Getty Images
People watch elections results during election night at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
People gather around Times Square to view televised results of the US presidential election on November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZEDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton react at her election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man leans out of a Hummer shouting words in support of U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump while driving through Times Square in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

Under the US electoral system, third party candidates have virtually nil chance of winning presidential elections with the overwhelming majority of support going to Republican or Democratic candidates. The last time a thirty party candidate won an electoral vote was George Wallace in 1968.

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