The Politician season 2 ending explained: Who really won the election?

After a nail-biting race between Payton Hobart and Dede Standish, there could only be one winner...

The Politician season 2 full cast (Netflix)

The second season of The Politician on Netflix was somehow even crazier than the first, presenting yet another wild election campaign packed with shocking scandals and betrayals.

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The stakes are high for young Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), who remains desperate to achieve his dream of becoming President of the United States, if only to live up to the person his late friend always thought he was.

Season two sees him reunite with his high school campaign team to run for New York State Senate, taking on experienced incumbent Senator Dede Standish (Judith Light).

Does he manage it or does he have another disaster on his hands? Read on to find out, but beware of full spoilers for The Politician’s second season…

The Politician season 2 ending explained: Why did Dede quit the race?

Judith Light stars in The Politician

After a tense campaign that saw Payton claw his way up the polls from nothing, the votes were counted and revealed that the election had ended in a draw!

The exact same number of ballots had been cast for Dede and Payton, leaving them in the agonising position of having to find a way to settle the contest.

It is decided that they will compete in a best-of-five match of Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine the victor, something that Dede later regrets when she realises how incapable she is at the game.

The night before the big day, she and her close adviser go out for drinks and just so happen to choose the bar where Payton performs music, taking some time to chat to him between songs.

It’s a candid discussion where they confess their mutual respect for each other and Payton reveals some of the detailed plans he has laid out for if he wins the election.

This proves to be a pivotal moment as Dede appears visibly impressed by his sheer enthusiasm and optimism, giving her the idea to concede the race to her rival.

The following day, she makes the shock announcement to the press and mentions Payton’s large following among a new generation of voters as a driving factor behind it, as well as his important environmental policies.

Don’t feel too bad for Dede though! She goes on to bigger and better things by being elected Vice President on a ticket with Payton’s adoptive mother Georgina Hobart (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Who really won the election?

THE POLITICIAN

Of course, there’s a big secret behind Payton’s election to state senate that holds the potential to put him in jail if it ever becomes public knowledge.

On election day, his friend and climate activist Infinity (Zoey Deutch) stole one of the official ballot boxes from a polling station used primarily by older voters, hoping this would tip the election in Payton’s favour.

It’s worth noting that Payton was not aware of this plan in advance, but did find out the following day and chose not to report the serious electoral crime to the police.

He feared that if the stolen box were to be cracked open, the votes inside would indicate a decisive victory for Dede Standish and he preferred his odds in the Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.

After Dede drops out of the race and concedes the state senate position to Payton, he feels bad that he essentially cheated his way to victory in the election – that is, until his campaign team reveal that he legitimately did win the election.

Before getting rid of the stolen ballot box, they couldn’t resist counting the votes inside to know without doubt whether Payton truly won his seat in the senate.

Much to their surprise, his environmental campaign focused on saving the planet for future generations resonated with older members of the electorate and their votes pushed him to a slim victory over Dede.

It’s still unquestionably wrong that he did not report the swiped ballots, but his conscience is settled by knowing that the outcome would have been the same either way.

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The Politician is streaming now on Netflix – check out our lists of the best TV shows on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or see what else is on with our TV Guide