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Is Donald Trump being shafted in the American election?

Last night, President Trump took to the podium at the White House to claim that the US Election was being stolen from him by voter fraud in several key states. Online, several theories have been floating around as to how this theft might be happening. It is worth, therefore, looking at the evidence for each of them.

If you have a theory or a question about the US election, and would like an answer to it, drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll try and explain what is happening.

Why is Biden getting so many more votes than other Democrats in key states?

Some people have observed that Joe Biden is getting many more votes than Democratic Senate candidates in the key states where he is defeating Donald Trump. For example:


At first glance, this might seem unusual, but it’s really not. There are a couple of reasons for it. First, in US elections, all the various offices are on the same ballot, but most people are only really focused on one or two elections. Think of it like an Irish election: Some people will only vote number one and leave the rest of the boxes blank; others might vote 1, 2, and 3, and others might go all the way to the bottom. In American elections, when this happens, it is called “undervoting”, and it is not uncommon.

And it doesn’t just favour Biden – for example, in North Carolina, Trump currently has 2,732,120 votes, but Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis has 2,640,381 votes – a gap of nearly 100,000 votes in Trump’s favour. But because nearly 200,000 people in North Carolina left their ballot for Senate blank, Tillis is actually winning by more.

The other explanation is simpler again: They’re two different elections. In some cases, people just like the Democrat in one election and the Republican in another. In Michigan, for example, the Republican Senate candidate, John James, is a very highly rated African American entrepreneur. It stands to reason that he might get more votes in the heavily black parts of Michigan than Mr. Trump would.

In Georgia, David Purdue is a member of the Purdue family – a long standing political dynasty with deep roots in Georgia. It’s not surprising that he would win votes that Mr. Trump could not. Think of the power of the Haughey name in North Dublin, for example.

This one is not particularly unusual, and it is not evidence of any wrongdoing.

Why are they taking so long to count the votes in states where Trump is leading, when other states finished so quickly?

Some people have wondered why the count is taking so long in Georgia and Pennsylvania and Arizona, etc, when it could be finished more quickly in other states, and speculated that this is to give wrong-doers time to manufacture enough votes to get Biden over the top.

But the problem is that it’s not true: They’re also still counting almost everywhere else. In California, for example, there are almost five million votes left to count. In Alaska, the count is only half done. In Texas, there are another 200-300,000 votes left to count. In every state, these will likely favour the Democrat, but because the result is clear, they can’t make a difference.

Did they block Trump observers from watching the counting in Pennsylvania?

I fell for this one myself yesterday, but it turns out to have been pretty poor journalism, rather than a conspiracy:

The court fight in Pennsylvania is not about whether you are allowed to watch the count – it’s actually about Covid protocols. The state wanted watchers to stand 12 feet away from the counting, and the Trump campaign wants it to be 6 feet away. The 12 feet distance, incidentally, had been flagged to both campaigns well in advance, so the Trump campaign waited until very late in the day to object to it.

Why did several batches of votes have no votes for Trump at all?

A lot of people are pointing to this tweet as evidence that something is fishy, and to similar occurrences in other states:

23,277 votes, all for Biden? Trump didn’t even get a single vote? That’s a statistical impossibility, right?

Well yes, it is. But it’s also worth noting the explanation:

In other words, Biden didn’t win 100% of 23,277 votes. It’s just that his numbers were updated first. A similar thing happened in Wisconsin and Michigan the other night.

Why is turnout so implausibly high in Wisconsin?

Lots of people have been saying that turnout in Wisconsin, which President Trump lost by only a few thousand votes, was implausibly high:

Again, this is a bit misleading, especially to an Irish viewer. In Ireland, we close voter registration weeks before the actual election. But in most American states, you can turn up on the day of the vote itself and register to vote, and cast your ballot. Comparing the turnout to who was registered months ago is misleading. You have to compare it to the voting age population, which in Wisconsin, at the last census, was 4.34 million. It will probably have grown since then.

3.2million votes is 89% turnout compared to the register, but it’s only about 75% turnout compared to the voting age population – and probably more like 70% when you account for the population growth since the last census in 2010. This is about in line with voter turnout everywhere else.

Did Biden underperform everywhere except the cities he suspiciously needs to win?

This tweet is getting a bit of attention:


The problem is, it’s just not true: There are lots of cities where Biden did vastly better than Hillary Clinton, but lost the state anyway. For example, in Texas, Clinton won Harris County, where Houston is, with 53%. But Biden is winning it with 56%. In Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth, Clinton didn’t win at all, getting just 43%, but Biden is winning it this time with 49%.

Also, a lot of big cities just haven’t finished their counts, as mentioned above, but nobody is noticing because the states aren’t competitive: For example, Baltimore has counted only 67% of its votes. New York is at about 70% of its votes. On and on it goes – there’s simply no evidence that this tweet is true.

Why are these late votes so overwhelmingly for Biden?

This one has been explained at length elsewhere, but since we’re answering questions, we’ll include it. Throughout this election, Democrats have been urging their voters to vote by post. President Trump, on the other hand, has repeatedly told his supporters not to vote by post, but to vote on election day.

In some states, like in Arizona, the counters counted the postal votes first – so Biden jumped out to a big lead, and President Trump has been closing it ever since, with votes cast on the day of the election. In other states, like Pennsylvania and Georgia, the opposite happened – Trump had a big lead, and it is being whittled away as postal votes are counted.

Is there any evidence of fraud at all?

The short answer to this is “not on any scale that would tip the election”. There are some isolated incidents of questionable stuff, yes – like the seven registered voters in Michigan aged 120 or more, which we covered yesterday, and you could argue, perhaps that those all add up. But it’s highly unlikely.

After all, if Democrats were going to rig the election, wouldn’t they have done a lot better? They’re on course to lose seats in the House of Representatives, and lose the Senate outright, making any Biden Presidency a bit of a misery for themselves. Why wouldn’t they have rigged the Senate election in Maine, for example, where Susan Collins losing would have been no surprise to anyone? And if they were going to rig this one, why wouldn’t they have rigged 2016, which was much closer, at least in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania?

The President’s claims about having the election stolen from him have no evidence – at all – to support them.

If you do have something that you think looks fishy, though, and you’d like us to explain or report it, drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll look at the evidence.

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