None of these early warning signs of fraud appear in the results. As the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman’s Popular Vote Tracker shows, voter turnout was up significantly almost everywhere compared with 2016. (The few states where that is not true are largely places that have not yet counted all of their mail ballots, such as California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Alaska). The huge turnout increases observed in battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Texas is partially explained by their rapid population growth compared with the rest of the country. Turnout also rose by 15 percent or more over 2016 levels in 10 non-battleground states where there was no chance the race was ever going to be close. Voter enthusiasm rather than fraud is the most obvious explanation for the large increases in votes cast in swing states.
The results within swing states also do not support allegations of fraud. Take Wisconsin, for example. The 2020 map looks almost identical to the 2016 outcome, with Biden flipping only two counties (Sauk and Door) that Trump had narrowly carried. Trump’s margins in rural and small metro area counties only narrowly changed from 2016, sometimes up a couple of points and sometimes down. Biden’s margins in the state’s Democratic strongholds were also not unusually high, nor was turnout noticeably higher there than in Trump regions. Trump’s vote share increased in Milwaukee, for example, and turnout in that deep blue county increased by less than 4 percent, compared with a 10-percent statewide increase. None of this is what one would expect to see if voter fraud drove the results.
The same factors exist in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Biden flipped only three Michigan counties, each of which Trump had carried by only three points or less in 2016. And he flipped only two Pennsylvania counties — Erie and Northampton — both of which are known as bellwethers that usually back the winner. Philadelphia is alleged to be the site of massive voter fraud, but as of this writing, it has reported fewer votes cast than in 2016 and is giving Biden a smaller vote lead than Hillary Clinton received. That’s a pretty incompetent performance if the fix is in.
All three states’ results indicate what was to blame for Trump’s defeat: suburban vote slippage. Trump’s margin in the three suburban counties surrounding Milwaukee dropped from 104,500 votes in 2016 to 96,750 in 2020, even as voter turnout increased from 369,000 to 417,700 votes. He would have won Wisconsin had he won these counties and similar suburbs of Madison and Minneapolis by the same percentage margins he did in 2016. The same is true in suburban Detroit, which Trump lost by 69,000 votes in 2020 after losing it by only 5,500 votes in 2016, and suburban Philadelphia, which he lost by 188,200 votes in 2016 and 283,800 votes this year. Trump would be ahead in Pennsylvania by roughly 50,000 votes if he had lost suburban Philly by his same margins in 2016.
This was not an isolated swing-state event, either. Trump’s suburban margins dropped in deep red non-swing states, such as Louisiana, Kentucky and Missouri, too. The president also did significantly worse in suburbs in deep-blue states such as Oregon and Washington. Trump’s plaintive cry toward the end of his campaign for suburban women to “please like me” is more indicative of why he lost than anything he says now about fraud.
Perhaps the president’s campaign has proof of specific fraud that undermines these observations. Until he produces that, however, Americans have only one reasonable conclusion: Biden won fair and square.