On November 3rd 2020, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump with 306 vs. 232 Electoral Votes. Biden's margin in the popular vote was a comfortable 7,052,770 votes.
For at least 6 months before the election, Donald Trump told supporters that if he lost it meant the election was rigged.
The day after the election, as votes were tallied and it became clear that Joe Biden had won, Trump went into full conspiracy mode.
Today is May 23rd, 2021 and the former president is still in denial. Many of his supporters have followed him into denial and conspiracy.
But it's actually very easy to debunk these claims with some simple math.
When I speak to people who believe the election was somehow compromised, I like to show them a simple calculation that proves Joe Biden easily won the election using Trump's own numbers and statements.
200 Days Later...
To be honest, I cannot believe I'm writing this article seven and a half months after the election. Never before has a US President refused to concede. But here we go...
In the aftermath of the election loss:
- Trump's own head of election security called it "The most secure election in American history" (Trump then fired him)
- Trump filed 62 court cases claiming various forms of fraud. He lost every case, despite many of the judges being Trump appointees.
- Two challenges were brought before the Supreme Court. Both were rejected in stunning 9-0 defeats
Any conspiracy devotee will explain away each of these observations with some new claim.
When presented with conflicting evidence, a well-trained devotee will just expand the conspiracy to say that this new evidence is also "Fake" and part of an even-larger cabal of forces working against The Donald.
What I will present should be very convincing to anyone that is mathematically or data-oriented.
But I have no illusions, Math is no match for Delusion. A good conspiracy combined with enough Cognitive Dissonance can defeat any logical argument.
Addition & Subtraction
Donald Trump claims there was fraud in swing states that he lost. However, he considers the elections in Texas, Alaska, Nebraska and other Red States he won to be "Fair and Secure".
I propose a simple test:
- Compare the margin of Trump's win in 2016 vs. 2020 in each of these Solidly-Republican states
- Take the average of that change
- Apply that same change-in-margin to all the Swing states and Blue States
- Count up the votes and electoral votes
Remember, we are only using 2020 data from Red States with elections Trump himself approved.
Trump won Texas in 2016 by a comfortable margin of 9%. However in 2020, his margin shrunk to only 5.5%, eroding two-fifths of his edge.
The story was similar in Montana and Alaska where Trump's performance in 2020 declined by 4.1% and 4.7%.
Even more dire were his numbers in Kansas and Nebraska where he lost over 6% of voters in both states.
A loss of 3.5%, 4.7% or 6% might not seem like a lot until you recall that Trump only won the 2016 election by a margin of 0.05% or 77,000 votes out of 138 Million.
In part, this erosion of his base shouldn't be surprising.
As a political figure, Trump polarized and then calcified the country into two tribes. Unfortunately for him, he divided the nation in such a way that he never got close to 50% support.
When he ran for re-election, he had already alienated 54% of voters.
Exploring all states which Trump won*, shows a consistent pattern: Loss of support since 2016.
In fact only two states, Arkansas and Florida, improved for Trump since his 2016 run against Hillary Clinton.
Taken together, the average change for all Red States since 2016 was a decrease in support of 2.55%.
Again, this might not seem like much, but that decrease is 51x larger than Trump's margin in 2016!!
We could stop here and confidently extrapolate that Trump would have lost the election, based only on the state elections he called "Fair and Secure". But for precision, let's take this change (loss of 2.55%) and apply it to the other 26 states and DC.
50 States + DC
Including all the Swing States and Blue States as well (2016 numbers - 2.55% change).
The mathematical prediction: Biden would win by 7,085,191 votes using only Trump's numbers.
He also comfortably wins the Electoral College.
That prediction differs by just 0.02% from the actual election outcome: Biden won by 7,052, 770 votes!
Statistically speaking, the 2020 election was very normal. The data shows one clear, consistent picture: A moderately unpopular president ran for reelection and lost by a healthy margin.
No Swing states, Blue states or Red States, had unusual numbers or statistical outliers.
The 2020 election looked a lot like 2016, but with with the incumbent losing 1/3 of crucial swing voters evenly across the US.
It should also be noted that the three state elections which won Joe Biden the presidency: Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia were all run by Republican election officials.
The Great Money Machine
Given that it's so easy to demonstrate mathematically and given that so many of Trump's own people say there was never any evidence of fraud, why have Trump and much of the GOP continued to broadcast this narrative for over seven months?
There is a LOT OF MONEY in disinformation.
Instead of the fundraising doldrums that follow a major election, the GOP and Trump are hauling in so much loot that they have gone to the mattresses over who gets to profit more. They are fighting over the spoils.
It's not every day that you can sooth your own ego and make half a Billion Dollars in one fell swoop.
Many members of congress are now basing their political identity on the election myth. House members are particularly susceptible to extremist conspiracies. Unlike Senators, who can easily land a spot on cable news or the Sunday morning political shows, the 435 members of the House have to resort to extremism to build notoriety and secure a spot on TV.
Trump claimed in 2016 that if he lost it meant "The election was rigged" but that if he won it was fair.
This is just political theater for Profit & Power. As long as there is more outrage to be minted, the circus will go on...
Already Arizona is conducting recount #9 and Georgia is contemplating recount #7.
Pro-Trump groups have vowed to keep re-re-re-re-recounting votes until they get "The right numbers". The current Pro-Trump firm attempting to invalidate democratic votes is Florida-based Cyber Ninjas. They won't be the last.
Given the overwhelming evidence supporting the election and the Sisyphean task of converting conspiracy adherents, why even both to make a quantitative analysis of the election? Why waste the effort?
The only reason I devoted time to writing an article seven and half months later is because of growing concern of political violence and the destabilizing of our national democracy.
Profiteering and political ambitions via disinformation is a very very dangerous game. It is Russian roulette played with American Democracy.
When individuals, especially in groups, genuinely believe that there is a great conspiracy and their votes do not count, violence is soon to follow.
On January 6th, that threat of violence became reality.
Following a speech by Donald Trump, where he exhorted his supporters to march to Capitol and "take back your country", thousands stormed the Congress and attempted a Coup d'Etat.
Despite being massively outnumbered by the mob, Capitol police clashed with rioters until National Guard troops arrived to put down the insurrection.
The surreal scene played out on national television and via first-person cellphone footage.
With the backdrop of a hangman's gallows and chants for Vice President Mike Pence's head, thousands stormed the Capitol Building.
In the end, seven people died and 147 capitol police officers were hospitalized.
Several prominent Republicans lamented that the US had lost it's title as the leader of the free world on January 6th.
One former Republican Secretary of Defense said of January 6th and the Big Lie:
"Donald Trump has done more to damage America, than any foreign power ever could with conventional bombs or weaponry"
From here the choice for Trump supporters is simple: Accept extreme contortions of logic and reject the evidence of your eyes and ears for a convenient and comforting lie.
Or admit a simple political loss and move on...
The choice for Donald Trump is far more difficult: Protect your ego, advance your political ambitions and pocket $500,000,000?
All you have to do is sell-out 240 years of American Democracy...