I mentioned this briefly in an article Monday morning as evidence of how Trump is continuing to try to rationalize his false allegations that the results of the 2020 presidential election weren’t legitimate. This was simply the most recent example of Trump hearing some random factoid, deciding that it sounded fishy for undetermined reasons and presenting it as fishy without explanation. He’s done this over and over and over, elevating random little tidbits, throwing them out to the public and then never dealing with it when they’re inevitably shown to be unimportant or incorrect.
Trump’s broad point is correct: He received about 74.2 million votes (not “almost 75 million,” as he likes to say) and House Republicans got about 72.9 million votes — a difference of about 1.3 million votes. To any observer who’s looked at election results for more than 10 minutes, this isn’t really surprising, given that there are generally more votes cast in presidential races than House races, since more people pay attention to presidential contests. (This was the point I made Monday morning.)
But in this case, the phenomenon is more interesting.
Thanks to the Cook and DailyKos analyses, we can compare how many votes Trump got in each House district with the number of votes the Republican House candidates got. Unsurprisingly, there’s a correlation between the number of votes each candidate received in each district. (On this graph and those that follow, the diagonal line reflects both candidates getting an equivalent number of votes. Dots above the line indicate a House district in which the House candidate received more votes than the presidential candidate from his or her party.)
If we plot the same comparison for the Democratic candidates, the pattern looks similar.
But there are some important differences. It’s hard to tell above, but the upper end of the Democratic votes received is significantly larger than the highest number of votes the Republican candidates received.
We can look at it this way, showing the results in each House district from the biggest vote-margin wins for President Biden to the biggest margins for Trump.
As I noted in the earlier piece, this is also a function of some gerrymandering. When Republicans draw House districts, they often overload some districts with Democrats to reduce the number of Democrats in districts where Republicans are competitive.
Notice that there are a number of districts — 21 in total — in which the margin for Biden dropped well below that D+200 (thousand) line. There were only two districts where Trump had a similar margin. Biden’s margin in the 17 districts where his margin was larger than Trump’s largest margin netted him about 4.3 million votes in total.
But what we’re interested in here is how the House results compare to the presidential ones. Notice first that there are a lot of districts in which the House margins are far larger than the presidential ones. These are often places where a candidate ran uncontested.
You can see them on the first graph we showed. See those dots along the bottom of the graph? Those are places where the Democratic House candidates were running unopposed, so the Republican House candidates got no votes. Trump racked up a 4.7 million-vote advantage in those districts alone. (The one red dot on that line is the reelection of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.); he won without appearing on the ballot.)
More important on that graph is whether a dot appears above or below the diagonal line. If we color-code things differently, you see how remarkable it actually was that Trump got more votes than those House candidates.
Of the 435 House districts, Trump got more votes than the Republican candidate in 208. In 227, the Republican House candidate got more votes. Of those districts, Biden beat Trump in 218. (In nine districts, both the House candidates got more votes than their party’s presidential candidates.)
In the districts where both Biden and the Republican House candidates got more votes, Trump got 2 million fewer votes than his party’s House candidates. In the 218 districts where he got more votes, he beat the House candidates by 3.4 million votes. That’s about the 1.3 million vote difference.
Take out those uncontested districts, though, and Trump loses about 1.7 million votes. Meaning that, if you exclude the races in which the Republicans didn’t put up a candidate or they didn’t make the general, the House Republicans got more votes than Trump.
That’s how Trump lost the election despite getting more votes than the House candidates. In 18 districts, there were no Republican votes for the House. Had there been, Trump’s new proof that something fishy happened would be revealed for what it actually is: a demonstration of the fact that most of his party’s House candidates got more votes than he did.