Did people steal the election from Donald Trump?
The U.S. recently held its presidential election. By now, almost everyone in the U.S. knows these two things: 1) Joe Biden has been declared the winner. 2) President Trump and at least some people believe that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.
Does the evidence actually indicate the people stole the election? (Photo by Sean Ferigan, courtesy of Unsplash)
In this post, I will discuss whether evidence suggests that people stole the election from Donald Trump.
But before I do that, I want to say two important things:
First, for a large part of my young adult life, I voted Republican, and I have a great deal of respect for the historical Republican party. It sounds like a cliché to say this, but it is true. Some of my favorite people in the world are Republicans.
Second, If you voted for President Trump, and you are upset that Joe Biden won, I get it. I understand your pain and am sorry for your suffering. It can be upsetting when your preferred candidate loses. This is especially true if you hold deep misgivings about the candidate who did win.
I really struggled with these same feelings when President Trump won in 2016. For a while, I was suspicious of the election results
In 2016, some people though Trump stole the election. (Photo by Markus Sipske, courtesy of Unsplash.)
I worried that President Trump had somehow conspired with someone to steal the election.
However, I knew that I couldn’t base a theory solely on my emotions. Negative feelings are not the same as concrete evidence of wrongdoing.
In addition, generally speaking, the simplest explanation for events is the best one. The more complicated something is, the less likely it is to happen. It would be extremely complicated and difficult for a presidential candidate to successfully steal an election without anyone detecting this crime.
Research, Research, Research
Therefore, I decided that it was more likely that President Trump had won the election legally than that he had stolen it. I also decided I should do some serious research before I assumed otherwise.
I researched. And I researched and researched for several months. At the end of that time, I concluded that President Trump indeed won the election fair-and-square.
I believed this even though his win surprised me and a lot of people—even some experts. And I believed this even though many polls had predicted that he would lose and that Hillary Clinton would win.
Before I discuss the recent 2020 election, I would like to explain the key pieces of evidence that suggest President Trump did indeed win the 2016 election fair-and-square.
Trump didn’t steal the 2016 election. (Photo by History in HD, courtesy of Unsplash.)
One: Hillary Clinton was extremely unpopular and had significant blind spots in her campaign.
If you voted for President Trump, it is probably no surprise to you that Clinton was unpopular in the 2016 election. What you may not know is that Hillary Clinton wasn’t just unpopular. She was one of the most unpopular presidential candidates in the last thirty years of presidential elections.
When You Assume . . .
Clinton failed to appeal to major voting blocs like blue-collar workers. Even worse, her campaign seemed blind to this fact and assumed that she had locked in the votes from these groups. Thus, her campaign did very little to reach out to these voting groups.
This had disastrous results on election day. Democrats had lower voter turnout, and many voters in traditionally blue states voted Republican.
Two: There were a lot of people who voted third party.
Because Hillary Clinton was so disliked, people who would have otherwise voted Democrat voted third party. This, of course, worked to Clinton’s disadvantage and to Trump’s advantage.
Three: President Trump energized a lot of people and increased voter turnout in some areas.
President Trump drew a lot of criticism for his maverick politics and rhetoric during his campaign. In fact, Donald Trump, along with Hillary Clinton, is also the most disliked presidential candidate in the last thirty years.
But let me tell you something you probably already know: Donald Trump really energizes and motivates some people. In fact, he motivated a lot of people to vote who usually don’t vote.
For example, Trump motivated higher voter turnout in some rural areas. This increase in voter turnout flipped some states red that had formerly gone blue.
Four: Several noted election experts predicted Trump’s victory and warned people to take Trump seriously.
One of the most startling things about the 2016 elections was that many experts predicted Clinton would win by a landslide. Then Trump won. This prompted people to suspect Trump had somehow stolen the election.
It is true that many experts predicted a resounding Clinton victory.
People Saw This Coming
However, several notable experts either flat-out predicted that Trump would win or stated that there was a strong chance Trump would win. (Check out Alan Lichtman, Michael Moore, and Nate Silver’s predictions in 2016).
So, while some people argue that no one predicted Trump’s victory, this is not at all true. Several experts predicted Trump’s victory many months in advance of the elections. People just didn’t listen.
Five: Comey’s investigation into Clinton’s emails worked to her disadvantage.
A few days before the election, FBI Chief James Comey announced he was reopening an investigation into Clinton’s email server, alleging possible impropriety. Many political analysts argue that this drove the final nail into the coffin of Clinton’s presidential aspirations.
Donald Trump didn’t steal the election in 2016. Rather, people voted against Clinton’s perceived incompetence in handling her emails. (Photo by DevVrat Jadon, courtesy of Unsplash.)
In a Nutshell
There is a pretty simple explanation for President Trump’s 2016 victory. Trump ran against a deeply disliked and distrusted candidate who failed to motivate many Democrats to vote. She also motivated other people who didn’t like Trump to vote for him as the lesser of two evils.
Trump Definitely Motivates Some Folks
On the flip side, Trump motivated strong voter turnout in some areas of the country and also attracted some former Democrats or Independents to vote Republican with his maverick politics. This was enough to flip some formerly blue states red.
And there were people who saw this victory coming for a long time.
The 2016 Election Map Shows This
This outcome is clearly reflected in the 2016 election results. Clinton won the popular vote, but President Trump won the electoral college by flipping some blue states red. The 2016 election map reads like a map of voters strongly divided on politics, wary of Trump, who decided to give him a chance.
Trump won fair and square.
But did people steal the election from Donald Trump in 2020?
But What about 2020?
Since the 2016 elections, I have been a little bit obsessed with the news and with researching who was likely to win the 2020 election.
For a while, it looked like President Trump would win again. Up until about a half a year before the 2020 elections, I resigned myself to this outcome.
The Landscape Shifts
But several months before the election, it became very clear that the political landscape had shifted and that many of the advantages President Trump had in the 2016 election were no longer present in 2020.
I am not a voting expert, but I did became increasingly convinced that Joe Biden had a strong shot at the presidency.
Shelly Predicts Stuff
I wrote a post on election eve about why I thought he would win.
Joe Biden did win, although it took him a few days to be declared the winner. President Trump and at least some people think that people (perhaps Biden and the Democrats) stole the election from Trump.
Let’s Consider Whether This Occurred
Remember, it is really difficult to steal an election without people realizing it ahead of time. It is wise to assume at the outset that people didn’t steal the election from Trump and that there is a much simpler explanation for why Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
Indeed there is.
Before I explain this, let me remind you of something you already know. You know that even if you and most of your friends and loved ones think your candidate is the best candidate in the world, he can still lose because many other people disagree with you and vote accordingly.
So could Donald Trump lose without people stealing the elections from him? Even if you really liked him? Yes, he could, if more people disapproved than approved of his job performance.
Our Opinions are Not the Only Opinions
This is a good thing to keep in mind as you read the following explanation.
Here are five pieces of evidence that suggest that Joe Biden won the election fair-and-square and that people did not steal the election from Donald Trump:
One: Donald Trump’s job performance approval never broke 50% during his entire four years in office.
(Correction: Trump’s average in a variety of presidential approval polls (both conservative and liberal leaning) never reached 50%.)
Presidential approval polls—even polls done by Fox News—show that throughout his entire presidency, most people in the U.S. disapproved of the President’s job performance.
Nate Silver is a statistician who blogs at FiveThirtyEight. He predicted Donald Trump’s possible win in 2016, even when other people laughed at his claims.
Approval Ratings Matter
During Trump’s presidency, Nate Silver and the other FiveThirtyEight, kept a running aggregate of all the major presidential approval polls (including conservative ones). You can find these statistics here. During Trump’s entire tenure in office, his national (average) approval rating was always below fifty percent.
It often hovered in the lower forty percent.
People didn’t steal the election from Trump; experts like Nate Silver predicted his loss. (Photo by Chris Liverani, courtesy of Unsplash).
The Whole Nation Votes, Not Just Us
Certainly, many people in Trump’s political base feel very positive about his job performance. But you and I both know that it is not just Trump’s base who votes on election day.
It is the whole nation.
And the polls (even Trump-favorable polls) consistently showed that a majority of people disapproved of the President’s performance. In fact, President Trump is the first President to never break a 50% approval rating during his time in office.
Two: People do not dislike Joe Biden as much as they dislike Hillary Clinton.
Let me tell you something else you already know. Joe Biden is not wildly popular. He does not inspire the same level of zeal that Trump, Bernie Sanders, or Barak Obama inspire in some people. People also do not dislike him as much as Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
That worked to his advantage in 2020.
Sometimes It Pays to Be Uninspiring
When people inspire very strong positive feelings in some people, they also usually inspire very strong negative feelings in other people. That has certainly been the case with Trump. While he has inspired a strong group of followers to vote for him, he angered and stirred a deep mistrust in others.
People didn’t steal the election from Trump. Rather, he alienated large groups of voters, much like Clinton did in 2016. (Photo by Samantha Sop, courtesy of Unsplash)
In 2016, these strong feelings worked to his advantage for several reasons. 1) many people dislike Clinton more than Trump. 2) Trump was a non-politician, and people decided to take a chance on him. 3) Trump really energized his base.
Inspiring Strong Feelings Can Work to People’s Disadvantage
People’s strong feelings about Trump worked to his disadvantage in 2020. Voters still strongly disliked Trump, but not as many people strongly disliked Biden. In addition, Trump was a known quantity, and many people didn’t like what they saw in Trumps job performance. They decided to take a chance on Biden instead.
This is Similar to 2016
This is somewhat similar to what happened in the 2016 election. While some people voted for Trump because they liked him, many people voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. If you look at the 2016 and 2020 election maps, you will see that they look pretty similar. Some of the states that flipped red in 2016 flipped blue again in 2020.
People didn’t steal the election because Joe Biden was able to win back some voters Hillary Clinton lost. (Photo by Clay Banks, courtesy of Unsplash.)
The Not-Donald-Trump Platform
In other words, Joe Biden was partly running on a “I’m Not Donald Trump” platform. Of course, this platform did not motivate voters supporting Trump. It did, however, motivate the over 50% of American voters who disapproved of Trump’s job performance.
The power of Biden’s “not Trump” platform showed itself on election day. While it is true that President Trump got more votes than any sitting president, Joe Biden got more votes than any candidate ever in the history of the U.S.
In addition to inspiring more people to turn out to vote against Donald Trump, Joe Biden (because he was not as disliked as Clinton) won back some of the Democrats and Independents Clinton lost.
Photo by Mana, courtesy of Unsplash
Three: President Trump earned the disapproval of many former Republicans.
One of the unusual things about President Trump’s tenure in office is that he not only alienated many Democrats and Independents, he also alienated many people within in his own party. Some of these alienated Republicans campaigned vigorously and spent millions of dollars to help elect Joe Biden. You can read about this here, here, and here.
Perhaps President Trump and his supporters do not care about these disaffected Republicans. The point is that the more people you alienate, the less likely you are to win an election.
That’s what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016. That’s what happened to Donald Trump in 2020.
Four: Over 200,000 people in the U.S. have died from the Coronavirus, and President Trump himself caught the Coronavirus.
Remember how James Comey announced an investigation into Clinton’s emails several days before the election? Remember how it was probably one of the things that cost her the 2016 election?
This event likely harmed Clinton’s election chances because it called her competence into question.
Many of Clinton’s supporters believed Comey blew the email issue out of proportion. Nevertheless, the issue tarnished Clinton’s image, and it made many people decide to vote for Trump instead of her.
The Coronavirus = Email-Gate
Coronavirus is for Trump what Email-Gate was for Hillary Clinton. Of course, some people think that Trump has done a fine job handling the Coronavirus and that people are blowing the issue out of proportion.
People didn’t steal the election. Rather, many voters voted against President Trump’s perceived incompetence in handling the Coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of Unsplash.)
The fact remains that for many months, Trump publicly downplayed the virus. He also refused to wear a mask publicly, against the advice of his own experts. He then caught the Coronavirus himself.
That’s A lot of Negative
In addition, his public briefings on the Coronavirus became so chaotic that people stopped watching them, and he eventually stopped holding them.
Lastly, over 200,000 people in the U.S. have died because of the Coronavirus, and right now there is no end in sight.
To some people, such actions have the appearance of incompetence. Like Clinton’s email issue, it influenced many people to vote for Biden over Trump.
Five: The experts who predicted Trump’s win predicted Biden’s 2020 win.
Do you remember the experts I mentioned that predicated Trump’s win in 2016? All three of them—Lichtman, Silver, and Moore–predicted Biden’s victory in 2020.
The point is that while Trump’s 2020 loss surprised some people, many of the experts who predicted Trump’s 2016 win also saw Trump’s loss and Biden’s win coming in 2020.
Six: Trump’s Attorney-General William Barr Denies Widespread Election Fraud
Trump’s Attorney-General William Barr has angered a lot of people for defending Trump on almost everything. Some people suggest that Barr coddles Trump.
It may come as a surprise to some people, then, to hear that William Barr refuses to support President Trump’s claims of election fraud and, in fact, has publicly stated that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud.
The fact that Barr has staunchly defended President Trump on almost everything but argues there is no evidence of widespread election fraud should make anyone claiming election fraud think twice.
You might be aware that one of Trump’s achievements during his time in office was that he appointed two new Supreme Court Justices. In doing so, conservatives now hold a majority on the Supreme Court.
This is important because yesterday (Friday, December 12), this same Supreme Court dismissed a case Texas submitted to them to overturn election results. You can read more about this here.
This means that not only did William Barr shoot down allegations of widespread election fraud, so did Trump’s conservative Supreme Court.
In a Nutshell
Just like there is a simple explanation for why President Trump won the election in 2016, there is a simple explanation for why Joe Biden won the election in 2020.
During his tenure in office, President Trump never gained the approve of the majority of U.S. voters. He also alienated a large number of rogue Democrats, Independents, and even voters in his own party.
The More You Alienate, the More You Lose
Trump’s strong appeal to his base encouraged a converse strong dislike in most of the rest of the country. In addition, his handling of the Coronavirus (as well as other issues), inspired a record number of people to vote in the 2020 elections and vote Joe Biden into office. This trend was strengthened by the fact that voters generally disliked Trump more than they disliked Biden.
Political experts who predicted Trump’s victory in 2016, predicted his defeat in 2020 for these reasons. And Trump’s own attorney general has stated publicly that Biden won fair-and-square.
Did People Steal the Election from Donald Trump? From Another Angle
Clinton and Trump have very different political policies. They appeal to very different groups of voters. When it comes down to it, however, they lost their respective elections for many of the same reasons.
Those Reasons are . . .
Both Clinton and Trump are strongly disliked candidates who flatly ignored or actively alienated large portions of voters. Both of them even alienated large groups of voters within their own party. In addition, both Clinton and Trump engaged in actions right before the elections that gave the appearance of incompetence to many voters.
Something That Might Surprise You
I wrote this post for many reasons, but one reason might surprise you. I want the Republican party to be healthy and do well. When the Republican party functions in a healthy manner, it provides a just check to the Democratic party. Just checks and balances make for good politics. I believe that Donald Trump has eroded the health of the Republican party. This is one of the reasons the party lost. It’s time to move on.
If you are still having troubles accepting Biden’s win, I get it. Once again, I struggled with the same thing in 2016. Here are some posts that might help.
This post examines whether the theory that people stole the election from Donald Trump is likely a conspiracy theory.
These posts examine some common reasons some folks think people stole the election from Donald Trump.