Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, November 20, 2020

No, Big City Corruption Didn't Provide Biden's Victory

 One of the most common claims flying around as people try to dispute the election results is that Trump would have won except for corrupt election officials creating huge numbers of extra Biden votes in a four key, heavily Democratic cities.  This piece from the site American Greatness makes the standard version of the claim:

"He won the election. But when that fact was becoming clear on Election Night as results started coming in from the bellwethers, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Atlanta stopped counting votes. Then around 4 a.m., they started counting votes again. And wouldn’t you know it, it turns out that those cities all happened to have turned out for Biden in exactly the numbers he needed to win those key states—turnout far greater than for Obama in 2008 and 2012."

It's not actually particularly hard to see that this is not the case.  For starters, Biden's vote share was not significantly more in these four big cities than Clinton's was in 2016.  (This website is really handy for checking count level vote comparisons.)

As you can see, although the number of votes increased significantly in all four cities, and Biden won each one by a large margin, Trump actually increased his share of the vote in Detroit and Philadelphia.

Even so, because the vote is so tilted in Biden's favor, if the number of votes in those four big cities had increased much more than the rest of the states, it would have had the effect of increasing the Democratic share of the vote in the state as a whole.  

Only in Georgia did the big city vote increase by a larger percentage than the state vote as a whole.  This hardly seems like an indication of manufactured votes in the big cities swamping the votes of the rest of the state.

Let's also look at the increase in the absolute vote margin in the big cities versus the margin by which Biden won each state.

Only in Georgia is the increase in the big city absolute vote margin greater than the margin by which Biden won the state in 2020.  In Wisconsin it's close.  And in Philadelphia, about which we've heard the most allegations from Trump's legal team about to big city shenanigans, Biden's absolute vote margin was actually lower than Clinton's absolute vote margin.  This hardly seems like evidence that it was tens or hundreds of thousands of fake ballots in big cities that swung the election.  

And remember, to reverse the election results, Trump would need to flip three of the four states.  

Does this prove that no "funny business" went on?  No.  Someone playing with numbers online cannot prove such a thing one way or the other.  But the claim which has been circulating that the big city vote counts obviously show signs of tampering is clearly not persuasive.  The big city vote ratios changed very little from 2016 to 2020, with Trump doing better in two and worse in two.  And the big city turnout did not grow in massive disproportion to the vote count as a whole.  This was a high turnout election in which many Americans went to the polls, but the numbers in the cities are not suspiciously high.

I'll do one more election post, hopefully over the weekend, dealing with another claim that's getting a lot of play: that somehow vote counting machines in many counties all over the country were hacked and used to swing the election results in Biden's favor.  


Jeff Stivers said...

Thanks for taking the time to do this. It's like when you have to unclog the drain. It's nasty cleaning out the muck, but the end result is satisfying. Seeing some truth in this muckfield of lies is refreshing.

Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that many people feel the need to teach us about the election results using data obtained by simply taking screenshots from other websites. As if that proves anything. With election fraud - and it has been proved to exist in this election - the scope and character of the fraud is not something you can simply divine from some internet searches. Let the investigations figure that out, then you can comment all you like.

Darwin said...


Certainly, to the extent that some of these allegations are being made in court, there will be a legal process and we will hear the result of that process. I do not pretend to have the access to hand recounts and inspections of ballot envelopes and questioning of people filing affidavits that a court would have.

However, there's another dynamic going on which is that I'm seeing a lot of people sharing around claims on social media which are not true in really easily verifiable ways. For instance I've repeatedly heard people allege that the big city Democratic political machines won states by inserting "hundreds of thousands" of fake Biden votes.

My goal with this post is simply to point out that it is really easy to check the data which refutes this claim. Biden did not do significantly better than Clinton did in 2016. Indeed, in Philadelphia about which I've heard the most and the wildest claims, Biden's vote margin over Trump was SMALLER than Clinton's in 2016. I used a data visualization from a news site because the format made it really easy to compare the years, but one doesn't have to take their word for it, we live in a country with transparent institutions and so you can go to the state and county election official websites and view the vote counts right there.

Now, this doesn't mean that no one cheated anywhere. Indeed, in something as big as a presidential election, you can bet that on the margins multiple people cheated. However, the kind of wild claims that I am seeing friends share on social media that there are "suspicious" increases of hundreds of thousands of votes in urban counties (claims which are not based on personal viewing of the ballots but on other self appointed keyboard warriors either looking at data or blatantly speculating about data they haven't bothered to look at) can be easily refuted by looking up the vote totals yourself, which is what I did in this post as a small service to those who might be interested.

Nate Winchester said...

I see where your error is. But I have been wanting to dive in some data myself so I'll post the correction tomorrow if it holds up after my own review.