Whoa: Jill Stein's presidential campaign raised $3.5 M. Now her recount campaign has raised $4.6 M, with a new goal of $7 M.— Susan Page (@SusanPage) November 25, 2016
The money, the headlines, the name recognition: The Green Party's recount efforts are probably its biggest win this election year.
Established in 1984 as a progressive alternative to the two major parties, the Green Party has mostly measured its victories in single-digit vote percentages and county board elections. (Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential run, where he won nearly 3 million votes and 3 percent of the popular vote, is probably the party's high point.)
A rolling stream of 2016 election night results on the party's website looked like this:
Victories in MichiganTom Mair elected to the Grand Traverse County Board District 2 seat. Korie Blyveis re-elected as Town Clerk of NewbertVictories in MinnesotaLena Buggs elected to the Soil and Water Conservation District in Ramsey County. Sharon LeMay elected to the Soil and Water Conservation District in Anoka CountyFlorida VictoryKim O'Connor has won Hillsborough County Soil and Water Board District #2. This is Tampa's county and she won with 29.52% of the vote 131,362 votes.
As of election night, at least 138 officeholders in 17 states are Green Party members — a slight uptick in their overall numbers but still a fraction of a fraction of the estimated 511,000 elected officeholders in the United States.
Perhaps the party's biggest victory on election night came in Missouri, where the Greens gathered enough support to establish a statewide political party there. (Offsetting that win, in the run-up to the election, the Green Party lost its status for state and congressional candidates to appear on the ballot in Massachusetts and Texas because Stein failed to poll more than 1 percent for president.)
This may be the least surprising thing you'll read all day: The Green Party's support appears to be strongest in California.
Of the 36 Green candidates who ran for office in California, 11 were elected. One, Mayor Bruce Delgado, was handily reelected to his fifth consecutive term by 77 percent of voters in Marina, Calif. (population 20,370). California's Green Party also has a county supervisor and six members of a town or city council.
If they have found slivers of success at the local level, at the national level the Greens tend to measure victories in fractions of a percentage point. Stein got on the ballot in 44 states and was available as a write-in in three more. Yet, despite setting a goal of 5 percent of the national vote (which would allow the party to be recognized as a national party and qualify for federal funding in the 2020 presidential race), she got 1 percent.
“This has been a bellwether year for the Green Party,” Stein wrote in an op-ed for CNBC in the days before the election, making one of her final pitches for why Americans should vote for the Greens.
All that makes the fact that Stein has raised $4.6 million and counting to pay for a recount in three states all the more impressive. (In two of those states — Michigan and Wisconsin — she received more votes than Donald Trump's margin of victory over Hillary Clinton.)
Given how incongruous those numbers are with Stein's party's performance this election, it's safe to conclude her recount efforts are less a reflection of support for the Green Party and more a reflection of something much broader — dissatisfaction with who actually won the presidential election.