Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump's GoFundMe donors did more to help Trump in North Carolina than Jill Stein

It's simple arithmetic:
These aren't surprising numbers. A cost of $5.11 per vote is just slightly lower than the average $7 that winners spent in 2008 House races, and Trump ran an extraordinarily cost-efficient campaign. The more controversial question is how much of the GoFundMe funding we can consider a direct investment in the Trump campaign. I would argue that we have to include all of it, since our concern here is risk: Trump may have not have benefited from all of that money, but he could have. Even if we only want to count a fraction of it, though, it doesn't end up mattering.

That's because according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Jill Stein only earned 692 votes. So even if we only give half of the GoFundMe total to Trump - or even a third - they still did more to elect him than Stein voters did.

By the way, it's worth adding here that the 1:1 correspondence between a vote for Trump and a vote for Stein is itself analytically dubious; as David Roberts noted earlier this year, a vote for Stein is at worst a half-vote for Trump, not a full one. If we accept this distinction, then we should divide Stein's vote total by two when comparing it to donations to Trump. So now we have two variables: how much of the GoFundMe total we give to Trump, and whether we count Stein votes as half votes or full votes. Again, the arithmetic is completely straightforward:


So depending on your assumptions, the GoFundMe may have had around seven times the impact on Trump's numbers that Jill Stein did - and regardless of your assumptions, it certainly at least had more of an impact.

Ultimately, Trump won North Carolina by such a wide margin (177,529 votes) that neither Stein nor the GoFundMe decided the outcome - but of course, we hardly knew this at the time. In fact, the polling had North Carolina so close that Nate Silver ranked it fourth among his "tipping point" states, with an 11.2% chance of deciding the election. If you give the GoFundMe donors a pass on this, you have to give a pass to Stein voters in virtually every other state, where their odds of deciding the election were far less significant. Only in Florida, Pennyslvania, and Michigan can Trump's GoFundMe donors even possibly claim any kind of moral high ground over Stein voters, and even then the claim is hilariously tenuous at best.