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Florida: Independent candidate Gary Johnson helped secure victory for Donald Trump

After all the antagonism between Donald Trump and Hillary 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.

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.

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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