Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian candidate and Biden enabler

2020 Election Studies

The 2020 election set several kinds of records, including for turnout for both winner and loser -

2020	D 81,281,672	R 74,221,585
2016	D 65,853,514	R 62,984,828

Big questions, so far unanswered, are why the polls were so wrong, and why so many voters against Trump still voted for his Republican enablers in Congress.

Below, several smaller questions are investigated numerically:

Which states most magnified small changes in popular votes into large changes in electoral votes?

In recent elections, very few states are close enough in popular vote to affect the electoral college outcome. In 2000, 359 votes in Florida decided the outcome. In 2016, 78,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin provided the winning margin: 78,000 additional votes for Clinton, or 39,000 votes switched from Trump to Clinton, would have changed the result.

What about 2020? To investigate that, compute |B-D|/EV, the ratio of the difference in the number of actual votes cast for Biden and Trump to the number of electoral votes at stake. The ratio indicates where the most efficient expenditure of campaign resources might have changed the result. The most interesting data as of 7 December:

ratio state difference 		electoral votes

 736 Georgia diff 11779		16
 951 Arizona diff 10457		11
2061 Wisconsin diff 20608	10
4094 Pennsylvania diff 81874 	20
4965 North_Carolina diff 74481	15
5599 Nevada diff 33596		 6
9637 Michigan diff 154188 	16

The final electoral vote was 306-232. To get to a tie 269-269 would require 37 more electoral votes for Trump. Arizona+Georgia+Wisconsin add up to 37, for only 43,000 more votes. A tie, according to the 12th Amendment, would lead to a decision by the House voting by state delegations in favor of Trump. So one could say that Biden won by 43,000 votes, compared to Trump winning in 2016 by 78,000 votes.

To avoid going to the House, Trump would have needed one more electoral vote, available for 34,000 more votes in Nevada, or for 22,000 votes by capturing Biden's electoral vote in Nebraska-2. Nebraska and Maine do not award electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis.

Conclusion: to avoid over-attention to a few battleground states and under-attention to states not in contention, reform the Electoral College according to any of several better schemes.

What is the effect of third parties on the presidential election?

What about third party and independent candidates? Did they gain enough votes, individually or collectively, to affect the electoral college count? To examine that, compare the ratio of the difference between Biden and Trump to the total vote count for third party and other candidates.

Conclusion for 2020: if you assume the Libertarian voters' second choice would have been Trump, then the Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen cost Trump the election by allowing Biden to win in Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, and (with a very little extra help) Pennsylvania. That's payback for the Greens who cost Gore the election in 2000 and Clinton in 2016.

Conclusion for 2024: Republicans should have spent a lot more money and effort promoting Green candidates in swing states instead of themselves (likewise Democrats Libertarians). Much more bang for the buck - it's what Putin would do. Maybe it's what he did!

The solution is ranked-choice voting, which allow every voter to specify second (and third and ...) choices, so each voter can vote for ideology as first choice, and if that doesn't work, for whoever seems second best.

Maine and Nebraska do not allocate all electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis: two votes are allocated that way, and the rest according to the vote in each congressional district. But in this election, third-party and independent parties made no difference in the electoral votes. Speculation before the election was that, depending on how the other swing states fell, that one Nebraska vote might make the difference between a tie going to the House of Representatives, where Trump would have won, and a narrow victory for Biden. The 269-269 tie would have happened if Trump had won Arizona (11), Georgia (16), and Wisconsin (10).

The most interesting data as of 7 December. The summary lines indicate the difference in votes between Biden and Trump and the total of the other votes.

Arizona Biden Dem. 1672143 President
Arizona Trump Rep. 1661686 President
Arizona Jorgensen Lib. 51465 President
Arizona Write-ins Lib. 2032 President
Arizona Total reported 3387326  President

512% Arizona diff 10457 other 53497 		11 votes
The Libertarian candidate's votes vastly exceeded the difference between
Biden and Trump.   Assuming those voters' second choice would have been
Trump, then the Libertarian candidate can be said to have delivered the
state to Biden.

Georgia Biden Dem. 2473633 President
Georgia Trump Rep. 2461854 President
Georgia Jorgensen Lib. 62229 President
Georgia Write-ins Lib. 0 President
Georgia Total reported 4997716 President

528% Georgia diff 11779 other 62229 		16 votes
Same as Arizona.

Wisconsin Biden Dem. 1630673 President
Wisconsin Trump Rep. 1610065 President
Wisconsin Jorgensen Lib. 38491 President
Wisconsin Write-ins Lib. 7721 President
Wisconsin Carroll Other 5258 President
Wisconsin Blankenship Const. 5144 President
Wisconsin Total reported 3297352 President

275% Wisconsin diff 20608 other 56614			10 votes
Same as Arizona.

North_Carolina Trump Rep. 2758773 President
North_Carolina Biden Dem. 2684292 President
North_Carolina Jorgensen Lib. 48678 President
North_Carolina Write-ins Lib. 13315 President
North_Carolina Hawkins Green 12194 President
North_Carolina Blankenship Const. 7549 President
North_Carolina Total reported 5524801 President

110% North_Carolina diff 74481 other 81736 		15 votes
Although all the other candidates together could have
swung the election to Biden, that seems ideologically
unlikely.   So the third-party candidates were

Pennsylvania Biden Dem. 3460574 President
Pennsylvania Trump Rep. 3378700 President
Pennsylvania Jorgensen Lib. 79420 President
Pennsylvania Write-ins Lib. 7672 President
Pennsylvania Total reported 6926366 President

106% Pennsylvania diff 81874 other 87092 		20 votes
Same as Arizona, assuming 2500 of the write-ins
might have voted for Trump as second choice.

Nevada Biden Dem. 703486 President
Nevada Trump Rep. 669890 President
Nevada Jorgensen Lib. 14783 President
Nevada Noneofthesecandidates Lib. 14079 President
Nevada Blankenship Const. 3138 President
Nevada Total reported 1405376 President

95% Nevada diff 33596 other 32000 			 6 votes
Close - but the third party candidates were harmless
since even all together they couldn't close the gap.

Michigan Biden Dem. 2804040 President
Michigan Trump Rep. 2649852 President
Michigan Jorgensen Lib. 60381 President
Michigan Hawkins Green 13718 President
Michigan Blankenship Const. 7235 President
Michigan DeLaFuente Other 2986 President
Michigan Write-ins Other 1090 President
Michigan Total reported 5539302 President

55% Michigan diff 154188 other 85410 			16 votes
Not even close.

What is the effect of third parties on other national races?

In these races, the third party and independent candidate probably affected the outcome, or nearly would have. Libertarians cost two Republicans a victory and forced one runoff. United Utah and Legalize Cannabis candidates each cost a Democrat victory.

Utah Owens Rep. 179688
Utah McAdams Dem. 175923
Utah Molnar Lib. 13053
Utah Broderick Other 8037
Utah Write-ins Other 29
Utah Total reported 376730

Utah diff 3765 other 21119 House-4
The United Utah Party candidate Broderick had endorsed
the Democrat before the election but received votes anyway -
if the Democrat had received them, the Democrat would have won.
The Libertarian also received enough votes to make a difference
but those votes might have gone to the Republican.

Iowa Axne Dem. 219205
Iowa Young Rep. 212997
Iowa Holder Lib. 15361
Iowa Total reported 447563

Iowa diff 6208 other 15361 House-3
The Libertarian probably cost the Republican the election.

Minnesota Hagedorn Rep. 179234
Minnesota Feehan Dem. 167890
Minnesota Rood Other 21448
Minnesota Total reported 368572

Minnesota diff 11344 other 21448 House-1
The Legalize Cannabis candidate Rood probably cost the Democrat the election.

Nevada Lee Dem. 203421
Nevada Rodimer Rep. 190975
Nevada Brown Lib. 12315
Nevada Bridges Ind. Am. 10541
Nevada Total reported 417252

Nevada diff 12446 other 22856 House-3
The Libertarian, with just a few Independent American votes, cost the 
Republican the election.

Georgia Perdue Rep. 2462617 Senate
Georgia Ossoff Dem. 2374519 Senate
Georgia Hazel Lib. 115039 Senate
Georgia Write-ins Lib. 265 Senate
Georgia Total reported 4952440 Senate

Georgia diff 88098 other 115304 Senate
The Libertarian votes prevented an outright victory by Perdue and
forced a runoff.

In these races, the third party and independent candidates could mathematically have affected the outcome but probably did not.

Texas VanDuyne Rep. 167910
Texas Valenzuela Dem. 163326
Texas Hamilton Lib. 5647
Texas Kuzmich Ind. 4229
Texas Bauer Ind. 2909
Texas Total reported 344021

Texas diff 4584 other 12785 House-24
The Libertarian had enough votes
to make a difference, and the independent Kuzmich almost did.
The Libertarian voters probably would have supported the Republican winner.

Minnesota Craig Dem. 204534
Minnesota Kistner Rep. 194954
Minnesota Weeks Ind. 24751
Minnesota Total reported 424239

Minnesota diff 9580 other 24751 House-2
The Legal Marijuana Party candidate Weeks had enough votes to
make a difference, but his voters probably would have supported
the Democrat winner.

North_Carolina Tillis Rep. 2665598 Senate
North_Carolina Cunningham Dem. 2569965 Senate
North_Carolina Bray Lib. 171570 Senate
North_Carolina Hayes Const. 67818 Senate
North_Carolina Total reported 5474951 Senate

North_Carolina diff 95633 other 239388 Senate
The Libertarian candidate had enough votes to make a difference,
but his voters probably would have supported the Republican winner.

Minnesota Smith Dem. 1566522 Senate
Minnesota Lewis Rep. 1398145 Senate
Minnesota O'Connor Ind. 190154 Senate
Minnesota Steinberg Other 57174 Senate
Minnesota Total reported 3211995 Senate

Minnesota diff 168377 other 247328 Senate
The Legal Marijuana candidate O'Connor had enough votes to make a difference,
but his voters probably would have supported the Democrat winner.

Michigan Peters Dem. 2734568 Senate
Michigan James Rep. 2642233 Senate
Michigan Willis Other 50597 Senate
Michigan Squier Green 39217 Senate
Michigan Dern Other 13093 Senate
Michigan Total reported 5479708 Senate

Michigan diff 92335 other 102907 Senate
The third-party candidates had enough votes to make a difference,
but the Greens would probably have supported the Democrat winner.

Indiana Spartz Rep. 208212
Indiana Hale Dem. 191226
Indiana Tucker Lib. 16788
Indiana Total reported 416226

Indiana diff 16986 other 16788 House-5
The Libertarian almost had enough votes to make a difference,
but his voters probably would have supported the Republican winner.

Michigan Stevens Dem. 226128
Michigan Esshaki Rep. 215405
Michigan Schwartz Lib. 8936
Michigan Total reported 450469

Michigan diff 10723 other 8936 House-11
The Libertarian almost had enough votes to elect the Republican.

Some of the other Federal elections were held without primaries and so had several candidates from each party as well as minor parties. Not much can be inferred from those, and some including the Georgia Senate Special Election will go to runoffs.

Georgia Warnock Dem. 1617035 Senate-special
Georgia Loeffler Rep. 1273214 Senate-special
Georgia Collins Rep. 980454 Senate-special
Georgia Jackson Dem. 324118 Senate-special
Georgia Lieberman Dem. 136021 Senate-special
Georgia Johnson-Shealey Dem. 106767 Senate-special
Georgia James Dem. 94406 Senate-special
Georgia Grayson Rep. 51592 Senate-special
Georgia Slade Dem. 44945 Senate-special
Georgia Jackson Rep. 44335 Senate-special
Georgia Taylor Rep. 40349 Senate-special
Georgia Johnson Rep. 36176 Senate-special
Georgia Slowinski Lib. 35431 Senate-special
Georgia Winfield Dem. 28687 Senate-special
Georgia Tarver Dem. 26333 Senate-special
Georgia Buckley Ind. 17954 Senate-special
Georgia Fortuin Green 15293 Senate-special
Georgia Bartell Ind. 14640 Senate-special
Georgia Stovall Ind. 13318 Senate-special
Georgia Greene Ind. 13293 Senate-special
Georgia Write-ins Ind. 34 Senate-special
Georgia Total reported 4914395 Senate-special

Georgia diff 343821 other 2024146 Senate-special
Runoff Jan 5.

Louisiana Letlow Rep. 102533
Louisiana Harris Rep. 51240
Louisiana Christophe Dem. 50812
Louisiana Lemelle Dem. 32186
Louisiana Robinson Rep. 23887
Louisiana Guillory Rep. 22496
Louisiana Hasty Rep. 9834
Louisiana Snowden Dem. 9432
Louisiana Lagarde Dem. 7136
Louisiana Total reported 309556

Louisiana diff 51721 other 156211 House-5
Runoff Dec 5.

What would the effect have been of allocating electoral votes per district rather than winner-take-all?

Some electoral college reform proposals are based on allocating votes per congressional district rather than per state. Analysis is waiting on David Nir 2020 presidential election results by congressional district.

Data sources



Get the complete data here. There are two kinds of computed summary lines: