As The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman reports, a draft of the Arizona audit report set for release Friday afternoon found none of the massive fraud Trump has promised and confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. In the end, it actually extended Biden’s winning margin in Phoenix-based Maricopa County by 360 votes — a not-uncommon shift for these types of reviews. (The GOP-led audit report, at the same time, goes to great lengths to seed further suspicion, in rather specious ways.)
It’s merely the latest of many setbacks for Team Trump in an audit or a recount. Not that Trump will be cowed by any of this, of course; the goal, as Philip Bump has noted repeatedly, is not to find actual fraud but rather to seed that suspicion. But at some point you would think the people who believe these claims might reckon with the growing volume of evidence.
And the evidence is this: Repeatedly now, Trump has pushed for recounts and audits in areas where he promised they would reveal massive fraud and that he actually won, and repeatedly those same reviews have affirmed that he actually lost.
Below is a ranking of the biggest rebukes to Trump’s claims to come from these reviews.
1. Arizona: 360-vote shift — toward Biden
This was supposed to be the big one, because it was the most extensive audit and it was effectively spearheaded by Republicans and people who had pushed bizarre Trump-esque voter-fraud conspiracy claims. It also took place in the state with the second-closest margin in 2020, meaning the level of supposed fraud required to change the result was comparatively small.
In other words, if there was something there to unearth or spin, this would seem to be the report that did it.
But even the Cyber Ninjas — the company tasked with the audit — couldn’t spin Arizona as anything but a Biden win. Trump made all manner of claims about what went down in Arizona and Maricopa County. He said in November, “If we can audit the total votes cast, we will easily win Arizona.” He also said in July of the audit that “when the real numbers are released, people will be shocked,” and that the numbers were “extraordinarily big and highly determinative.”
2. Michigan/Antrim County: 12-vote shift
Antrim County was the first big example Trump and his allies cited; it was the one that fueled baseless conspiracy claims about voting machines switching votes. The totals in this small and heavily GOP county on election night showed Biden somehow winning handily, before they shifted significantly in Trump’s favor.
The culprit was rather apparent: a brief mistake in how the vote totals were uploaded. But the allegation persisted that this was proof that voting machines were switching votes in Antrim County and, more importantly, elsewhere.
Ultimately, a hand audit of the votes in Antrim County showed the results added just 12 votes to Trump’s margin. And a broader hand audit of 18,000 ballots statewide also affirmed the results.
Trump, of course, has continued to spread misinformation, saying as recently as May that Antrim County was “the major Michigan Election Fraud case.” He added: “The number of votes is MASSIVE and determinative. This will prove true in numerous other States.”
The next month, much as in Arizona, a GOP-led report severely undercut Trump’s claims. It determined that the Antrim County conspiracy claim was “diminished so significantly as for it to be a complete waste of time to consider them further.”
“The Committee finds those promoting Antrim County as the prime evidence of a nationwide conspiracy to steal the election place all other statements and actions they make in a position of zero credibility,” the report stated bluntly.
3. Georgia: 1,779-vote shift out of 5 million
Georgia was the closest state Biden won, making it again the ripest for theories that the result could be overturned. Trump even predicted on Nov. 12, “Now with a recount, we will win Georgia also.”
But the state soon conducted a hand audit and then an official machine recount. The upshot: Biden’s margin narrowed slightly, from 13,558 votes to 11,779 votes, but not nearly enough to put the result in doubt.
With that effort failing, Trump moved on to supposed signature-matching anomalies. But again, a probe run by a Republican rebutted the claim. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) conducted another audit — of signatures in Cobb County outside Atlanta — and found the county had “a 99.99% accuracy rate in performing correct signature verification procedures.”
4. Wisconsin: 74-vote shift — toward Biden
In this case, the Trump campaign put its money where its mouth was, paying $3 million for a recount of the state’s two most urban counties, Milwaukee County and Dane County, home to Madison.
The Trump campaign alleged, without evidence, that as many as “15-20% of absentee ballots in Milwaukee County were tainted” by having information added by poll workers.
But the recount showed the totals were highly accurate, with a net shift of just 74 votes, toward Biden. The review was less robust than the ones above, but it showed much the same thing.