That would have gained Romney 29 votes in the Electoral College for a total of 235 – still 35 short of the 270 needed to win.

Could he have picked up more Electoral College votes in other battleground states had there been no third-party candidates? In Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia and Illinois, third-party candidates were active — campaigning on a variety of issues, including the legalization of marijuana, which was approved by Colorado and Washington State voters.

However, third-party candidates drew only small percentages of the vote in those states.

In Virginia, it had been feared that former U.S. Senator Virgil Goode’s Constitutional Party candidacy would leach off enough conservative votes to give the state’s Electoral College votes to Obama. However, Obama won the state’s 13 Electoral College ballots by 54,924 votes.

Only 51,802 Virginians voted for all of the third-party candidates combined — close, but not enough to matter.

Virgil Goode

What about the other states that went for Obama? Had there been no third-party candidates, would there have been 35 more Electoral College votes to put Romney over the top? 

In California, the President won by 59.2 percent with 5,554,499 votes. Romney garnered only 3,613,339 votes. If he’d had every one of the Third Party candidates’ 219,425 votes, it would have made no difference.  The same is true in all of the “battleground” states as well as smaller states which went for Obama: Oregon, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Delaware and Minnesota.

So, if third-party candidates didn’t make the difference this time, who did? Most Americans tuned into Election Night coverage unsure of what to expect. In the early evening, everything appeared too close to call. All eyes were on those “battleground states” where “swing voters” were the target of millions of dollars of last-minute advertising. How did these all-important swing voters come to their final decisions?

Dr. David Riess, a practicing psychiatrist for 25 years and former medical director of Massachusetts’ Providence Hospital in Holyoke, says that last-minute swing voters choose a candidate ”largely based upon emotional factors, based upon seeking a sense of Shared Omnipotence with their political idols, rather voting based upon an objective analytical consideration of the facts.” The majority of such late-deciding swing voters, he says, rely most heavily on irrational factors “which emerge out of the dysfunctional aspects of personality structures.” He finds that worrisome.

In years past, such voters got to choose from third-party candidates who were attractive since they seemed to have a chance.

No such third-party choices emerged this time. All the third-party candidates did poorly. At the last unofficial count, Green Party national candidate Jill Stein pulled only 98,000 or so votes nationwide. Comedienne Roseanne Barr, who campaigned on a platform that “the war on drugs is just plain crazy,” won about 10,000 votes. The outspoken Randall Terry, who served prison time in his quest to stop abortion, got 8,700 votes.

Third-party candidates Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson.

And Jeff Boss, who campaigned on the single issue that mysterious, shadowy government officials allowed the 9/11 attacks, received only 263 votes nationwide.

What happened to the Christian vote? Many evangelicals seemed to be sitting out the election, unexcited with either candidate’s past. Dr. Billy Graham at the last minute seemed to be leaning toward Romney — although he doesn’t endorse candidates — and just before the election removed an article on his website which for years has listed the reasons that Dr. Graham says Mormonism is a cult.

Absent during this election were the evangelical activists who elected Ronald Reagan. Many of them supported Sarah Palin in 2008 and

voted for John McCain, about whom they were just as ambivalent as they were this year about Romney.

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