The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Thanks to a bad map and bizarre math, Breitbart can report that Trump won the REAL popular vote

The only appropriate way to describe this map, gracing an article at, is “hilariously idiotic.”

As a media outlet interested in accuracy, The Washington Post has a version of the county-by-county map that is based on actual data. In reality, the county split in last week's election looked like this:

Still a lot of red, but you will notice on our map that large U.S. cities that always vote Democratic are clearly demarcated by their county boundaries. You will also notice that the counties are not all little blue squares as they are in Breitbart's map, because our map is a map of actual American counties and not a red map that someone took into Microsoft Paint to dapple with little squares to have a fake map for a completely made-up story about the results of the election.

The “someone” who made Breitbart’s map appears to be Michael Patrick Leahy, according to its caption. Leahy is also the author of the article, which is titled “Donald Trump Won 7.5 Million Popular Vote Landslide in Heartland.”

For fun, let's evaluate Leahy’s analysis of the election results.

Donald Trump won an overwhelming 7.5 million popular vote victory in 3,084 of the country’s 3,141 counties or county equivalents in America’s heartland.

There are a lot of weird qualifiers there. The Census Bureau tallies the number of counties and equivalents in the country at 3,142. I looked at data from 3,110 of them earlier today (lacking data from some counties). Hillary Clinton won 487 of them; Donald Trump won 2,623. But Clinton won a lot more counties with cities (as above) and so the current national vote total compiled by Cook Political’s Dave Wasserman has Clinton leading by 1 million votes. (He estimates that lead will double.)

That was the first sentence of Leahy’s “report.” Here’s sentence two.

Fifty-five point seven million out of the 109.3 million Americans who cast their ballots in those counties voted for Trump, while only 48.1 million voted for Hillary Clinton, according to the latest county by county election results reported at Politico.

This suggests that Leahy is using some definition of “heartland” that both incorporates most of the country but also excludes places Clinton won. If you look only at counties that Trump won, Trump leads — as you’d expect — by over 17 million votes. But in counties she won, Clinton leads by more. Clinton gets 42.2 million votes in states that she lost and trails Trump by 1.9 million there. But in states she won she gets 19.7 million votes, leading Trump by 3 million.

As it turns out, what Leahy’s doing is simply taking 52 counties where Clinton did well and eliminating them from the equation. Those 52 “elite” counties are mostly those that clumsily dot their way across his map above. All of this is totally arbitrary, of course. Everything that isn’t one of those “elite” counties is the “heartland,” an area that Leahy figures includes Long Island, Maine, Detroit and Charleston, S.C.

You know. The heartland.

But you will agree with me when I say that those aren’t the elite counties. The elite counties in America are places like Tulsa County, Okla., Denton County, Texas and Cherokee County, Ga. In the 50 actual elite counties, Donald Trump won by 2.5 million votes. But in the heartland — everywhere else — Clinton won easily. And that’s what really counts.

The funniest line of Leahy’s piece is this:

It is worth noting that virtually all members of the mainstream media reside within this narrow band of elite coastal counties.

His “elite coastal communities” include New York, Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, Washington, Baltimore, Boston and the coastal paradises of Sacramento and Chicago. In other words: Large cities where lots of people live.

You know where else is a big city? Nashville, the 25th-largest city in the country, county seat of Davidson County, Tenn., which backed Clinton by 26 percentage points. Ugh! Elites!

This is where Leahy lives, according to his Twitter profile. Mainstream media elite.

You can slice and dice the numbers however you want. You can say Clinton won the popular vote if you want, which she did. You can say Trump won the electoral vote, which he did. You can say that Clinton won the all important counties-that-contain-the-letters-“folk” vote, 812,000 to 535,000. (This is true.)

Or, if you want, you can say that, save for the largest state in the country, which is home to one out of every eight people, Trump won the popular vote!

Wow. Simply set aside millions of votes, and the outcome changes. And here people are saying Clinton won the popular vote! Shaking my head at those elite media folks in their coastal mansions.

Leahy’s map is bad. His argument is bad. The article is bad. Incidentally, Breitbart is a website that until August was led by Stephen K. Bannon, the man who will be one of the two most senior advisers to president-elect Donald Trump.

Here's what you need to know about the man who went from being Breitbart News's chairman to Trump's campaign CEO and now to chief White House strategist. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)