The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump lost. But his Twitter feed keeps giving supporters false hope.

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

By any reasonable calculation, President Trump was decisively beaten by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Biden is on track to receive 306 electoral votes, compared with 232 for Trump. Biden has bigger leads than Trump had in two of the three states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — that handed Trump the presidency in 2016. On top of that, Biden appears to have won Arizona and Georgia, two traditional red states, by narrow margins. (In the popular vote, Biden is also ahead by more than 5 million votes, but of course that doesn’t matter in the electoral college math.)

Trump has been publicly silent all week, about any issue — except on his Twitter feed. There, he has tweeted or retweeted false claims about the election, often flagged by Twitter as misleading. The tweetstorm is an effort to provide the illusion to his supporters that he still has a chance to win reelection as his team pursues lawsuits falsely claiming election fraud in a variety of states and he refuses to concede the election.

This is not the same as the 2000 scenario, in which George W. Bush and Al Gore battled over the counting of a few hundred votes in Florida — and whoever won the state won the election. None of the margins in the key states is that tight. Moreover, Trump would need to flip or nullify the results in at least three states to have success.

Biden’s victories in Georgia and Arizona make Trump’s burden so much harder, because otherwise Biden would have 279 electoral votes — and Pennsylvania could have been ground zero for a showdown. But that scenario, which Trump mused on the campaign trail would be settled by the Supreme Court, did not come to pass.

Moreover, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. There are, of course, occasional irregularities and glitches, but a conspiracy to massively shift thousands of votes across a variety of states is simply not credible. Virtually all of Trump’s lawsuits alleging fraud so far have fared poorly in the courts, though he did win a minor victory in a Pennsylvania case affecting some ballots that have not been counted yet.

Here’s a guide to some of his key tweets this week. Many have been flagged by Twitter, so we will not be providing links to them. In fact, between Nov. 8 and Nov. 12, Trump tweeted or retweeted more than 30 tweets that were flagged by Twitter.

“Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be? We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks!”

— Nov. 8

The Associated Press, for one, has been calling elections since 1848, when it used the telegraph to gather information from the 30 states voting at the time. (Before then, states did not vote at the same time in the presidential election.)

Trump had no objection when the AP and major networks called the 2016 race in his favor at about 2:30 a.m. on election night after it was clear he had won enough states to reach the 270-vote threshold.

“Investigators Dispatched After Fulton County Discovers ‘Issue‘ with Ballot Reporting.”

— Nov. 8

Trump here linked to a report in Breitbart, a right-wing news source, which reported that “Georgia’s top election official is dispatching a team of investigators after a ballot ‘issue’ was discovered in one of the counties most responsible for giving former Vice President Joe Biden the lead over President Trump.”

The problem — that few hundred provisional ballots appeared to be missing — was quickly resolved. Some were scanned as absentee ballots; others had been damaged by the knife in the automatic opening machine.

As of Nov. 12, Biden led Trump by more than 14,000 votes in Georgia. A hand recount has been ordered.

“Nevada is turning out to be a cesspool of Fake Votes. @mschlapp & @AdamLaxalt are finding things that, when released, will be absolutely shocking!”

— Nov. 9 (flagged by Twitter as misleading)

American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp claimed, “We have literally 9,000 people who voted in this election who don’t live in Nevada.” But that’s bunk.

Our colleagues at PolitiFact investigated and concluded this claim was worthy of Pants on Fire, the equivalent of Four Pinocchios. It derived from a list circulated by the Trump campaign saying 3,062 people voted after moving out of state. Using fuzzy math, Schlapp then tripled the figure.

But there are all sorts of reasons people can legally vote in a state after moving out of it, such as attending college or serving in the military.

Republicans may have been able to turn up one possible case of a dead person voting, though it’s still being investigated. (Another case appears to be a mix-up: The ballot was signed by the dead person’s daughter, who did not cast her own ballot.)

As of Nov. 12, Biden is ahead of Trump in Nevada by nearly 37,000 votes, so even if every one of those alleged 9,000 votes was thrown out (and they all were for Biden), Biden would still win.

“Wisconsin is looking very good. Needs a little time statutorily. Will happen soon.”

— Nov. 9

It’s not looking very good for Trump in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is one of the states in the “blue wall” that Biden won back for the Democrats. Biden is ahead by 20,546, or 0.5 percent. Trump can request a recount once the results are finalized since the margin is under 1 percent. But because Biden is ahead by more than 0.25 percent, state law requires Trump to pay for it. Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested a recount in 2016, and it cost nearly $3.5 million.

Generally, a gap of 20,000 votes will be unaffected by a recount. Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 — just over 22,500 votes — gained by 131 votes after the recount.

“Georgia will be a big presidential win, as it was the night of the Election!”

— Nov. 9

On election night, Trump was ahead by more than 100,000 votes, but there were nearly 270,000 ballots to be counted, mainly from Democratic strongholds. So Trump fell behind as more votes were counted. As of Nov. 12, Biden leads by about 14,000 votes.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said it was “unlikely” for Biden’s lead to be erased by any remaining ballots. He said the state would conduct an audit of the results, which would include a hand recount of the nearly 5 million ballots cast.

“ABC/WaPo had me down 17 points in Wisconsin, the day before the election, and I WON!”

— Nov. 9

The margin in Wisconsin was much closer than many polls predicted. But Trump lost. He did not win.

“A guy named Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia Commissioner and so-called Republican (RINO), is being used big time by the Fake News Media to explain how honest things were with respect to the Election in Philadelphia. He refuses to look at a mountain of corruption & dishonesty. We win!”

— Nov. 11 (flagged by Twitter)

Trump has focused his ire at alleged election corruption in Philadelphia, even though he gained ground in the city, compared with 2016, while losing ground to Biden elsewhere in Pennsylvania. Trump is behind by more than 60,000 votes as of Nov. 12. So the logic of his attacks on the city’s election process is faulty.

As for Schmidt, he is the Republican member of the board overseeing Philadelphia elections. “We just had the most transparent and secure election in the history of Philadelphia. I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all,” Schmidt said, adding: “I realize a lot of people are happy about this election and a lot of people are not happy about this election. One thing I can’t comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies.”

The Trump campaign has touted the testimony of “a whistleblower” who said that a supervisor in Erie, Pa., tampered with ballots. But then the postal worker recanted the claim in an interview with postal inspectors.

The Trump campaign has also advanced an argument that people who sent mail-in ballots were treated differently in Democratic-leaning areas than Republican areas, with voters in Democratic areas given more of a chance to fix possible problems, such as failing to include a security envelope or failing to sign an outer envelope. That case is still pending.

“Nobody wants to report that Pennsylvania and Michigan didn’t allow our Poll Watchers and/or Vote Observers to Watch or Observe. This is responsible for hundreds of thousands of votes that should not be allowed to count. Therefore, I easily win both states. Report the News!”

— Nov. 11 (flagged by Twitter)

Trump is behind in Michigan by nearly 150,000 votes, so he has no chance of winning in the state unless he seeks to disenfranchise thousands of voters. But his claims that his poll watchers were blocked from watching has fared poorly in the courts in both Michigan and Pennsylvania. His claim is simply false.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, “under sharp questioning from Judge Paul S. Diamond, however, they conceded that Trump in fact had ‘a nonzero number of people in the room,’ leaving Diamond audibly exasperated,” The Washington Post reported. “ ‘I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?’ asked Diamond, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush."

As for Michigan, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press had choice words for Trump’s tweet:

“It took long enough! What is taking North Carolina so long? Are they looking for more ballots to fix that one also? Now with a recount, we will win Georgia also. Pennsylvania & Michigan wouldn’t let our Poll Watchers & Observers into counting rooms. Illegal!”

— Nov. 12 (flagged by Twitter)

Trump is ahead by about 73,000 votes in North Carolina, putting the state out of reach for Biden even with about 176,000 ballots remaining to be counted. Biden has reduced the margin by about 3,000 votes in eight days of additional counting.

As noted, Trump has virtually no chance of winning Georgia in a recount.

“From 200,000 votes to less than 10,000 votes. If we can audit the total votes cast, we will easily win Arizona also!”

— Nov. 12

In Arizona, Trump gained ground in the past week but not enough to catch Biden. The day after the election, the Democrat was ahead by 130,000 votes — not 200,000 — with 750,000 ballots to be counted. On the night of Nov. 12, Biden was projected by Edison Research to win the state, with a lead of a little over 11,000 votes with about 11,000 ballots left to be counted.

“It does appear that Joe Biden will win Arizona,” the Republican attorney general of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, said on Fox Business on Nov. 11. “There is no evidence, there are no facts that would lead anyone to believe that the election results would change.”

He said that “less than 200 votes that are in question and doubt,” which obviously would not be enough to change the results.

“REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE. DATA ANALYSIS FINDS 221,000 PENNSYLVANIA VOTES SWITCHED FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP TO BIDEN. 941,000 TRUMP VOTES DELETED. STATES USING DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS SWITCHED 435,000 VOTES FROM TRUMP TO BIDEN.”

— Nov. 12 (flagged by Twitter)

This is perhaps the most outrageous tweet of the week, with Trump citing a report from One America News, a rabidly pro-Trump news outlet. The source of the OAN report appears to be a thread on TheDonald-win.com, a pro-Trump website, that offers no evidence for these claims.

Trump’s tweet is especially galling, because Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in the Department of Homeland Security, has forcefully disputed the possibility that some sort of rogue actor could delete votes like this, both on his Twitter feed and on an agency website, Rumor Control.

“The systems and processes used by election officials to tabulate votes and certify official results are protected by various safeguards that help ensure the accuracy of election results,” the website says. “These safeguards include measures that help ensure tabulation systems function as intended, protect against malicious software, and enable the identification and correction of any irregularities.”

After the president’s tweet, Krebs retweeted a number of experts debunking the claim, including this one:

Moreover, a few hours after the president’s tweet, a top committee made up of officials from the CISA and its election partners declared: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

(This truth-telling may have a cost. Reuters reported that Krebs has told associates he expects to be fired.)

As for the specific allegation against Dominion, the New York Times looked into the issue a day before the president’s tweet. It attributed glitches in reporting vote counts — quickly corrected — to either human error or a software issue that led to delays.

“The Dominion software was used in only two of the five counties that had problems in Michigan and Georgia, and in every instance there was a detailed explanation for what had happened,” the Times reported. “In all of the cases, software did not affect the vote counts.”

“Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies any claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems,” the company said in a statement. “Our systems continue to reliably and accurately count ballots, and state and local election authorities have publicly confirmed the integrity of the process.”

The Pinocchio Test

The president continues to deny the reality of his election loss with baseless and outrageously false claims that call into question the election’s integrity. He earns Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

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