Far From Being ‘Statistical Anomalies,’ Voting Results in Michigan, Georgia Fit National Patterns

Pro-Trump Lawsuits Fail to Take Other State-by-State Results into Account

Darren Richardson
Nov 28, 2020 · 5 min read
An antique typewriter with a page reading “Elections 2020” sits on a desk outside with plants in the background.
An antique typewriter with a page reading “Elections 2020” sits on a desk outside with plants in the background.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

In lawsuits filed late Wednesday, attorney Sidney Powell asked federal district courts in Michigan and Georgia to decertify the Nov. 3 general election results and recertify President Trump as the winner, despite the fact that President-elect Joe Biden won the popular vote in both states.

The lawsuits, as reported by United Press International, cited “statistical anomalies and mathematical impossibilities.” It’s hard to say what Powell meant by that phrase, since the lawsuits are packed with so many allegations and meanderings that lack specifics, but if she is trying to insinuate that Biden’s vote 2016-to-2020 vote gains in those states are out of line with his pickups in other states, her case falls flat.

According to voting statistics published by The Cook Political Report, the 2020 Democratic ticket of Biden and Kamala Harris improved on percentages posted by the party’s 2016 candidates, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, in all but seven states: California, New York, Illinois and Hawaii among the states Biden won, and Florida, Arkansas and Utah among the states he lost. In Nevada and the District of Columbia, Biden-Harris received the same percentages as Clinton-Kaine.

In the remaining 42 states, Biden improved on Clinton’s numbers against Trump. Perhaps Powell was alluding to far more sinister “statistical anomalies” than how the vote totals panned out, but if anything, results in Georgia and Michigan fit the pattern of Democratic popular vote gains in states across the nation, in every geographic region, regardless of which ticket carried a given state.

A list of the top 15 states for Democrats in terms of percentage increases in votes from 2016 to 2020
A list of the top 15 states for Democrats in terms of percentage increases in votes from 2016 to 2020
Source for statistics: Cook Political Report; graphic composed by author.

In 2016, the Republican pairing of Trump and Mike Pence won Michigan by .22 percent, finishing 10,704 votes ahead of Clinton and Kaine. In 2020, Biden-Harris topped Trump-Pence by 2.78 percent, or 154,188 votes.

That’s an improvement of 3% percent in Michigan for the Democrats in 2020 vs. 2016, which is about what one would expect given Michigan’s voting history prior to 2016 and the overall national shift toward the Democratic ticket in ’20 as opposed to ’16.

Nothing to see here, folks, except heavier Democratic turnout.

In Georgia, the Democrats improved on their 2016 percentage by 5.4%, winning the state by 12,670 votes. That was good enough for 49.51% of vote compared to Trump-Pence’s 49.25%.

At first glance, a Trump supporter might leap to the conclusion that 5.4% is too big of a gain — indicative of “statistical anomalies,” if you will — but even among the electoral votes flipped by Biden-Harris, it wasn’t the largest uptick. That distinction belongs to Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which swung 8.9% toward the Democrats.

Not only that, but Georgia may well have been home to the most concerted and focused effort by Democrats to register and turn out voters.

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 gubernatorial candidate who barely came up short in her bid against then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, worked tirelessly to boost the Democratic voter rolls in the Peach State.

Abrams inspired many other Democrats in Georgia to do the same, and their efforts paid off with a large enough shift in the composition of the electorate to give Biden-Harris the state’s 16 electoral votes.

By now, it is painfully obvious to anyone willing to remove partisan blinders that the American voters soundly rejected the Trump presidency. It was not a landslide by any stretch, but Biden still won the highest percentage of votes than any presidential challenger since Franklin D. Roosevelt won in defeating the incumbent Herbert Hoover in 1932.

As with almost every election, results were close in some states; Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona come to mind, in addition to Michigan and Georgia. Some may find comfort in resorting to farfetched conspiracy theories to explain things. But in reality, Trump lost the popular vote for a second time, and the electoral college tightrope act he pulled off in 2016 just didn’t materialize in 2020.

In her typo-ridden lawsuits, Powell alludes to vast, unproven conspiracies, reminiscent of an amateurish fiction writer pitching the framework of an outlandish, improbable novel plot to a skeptical, world-weary publisher. It boggles the mind to consider that Powell was an assistant U.S. attorney for a decade, even if her career with the feds did end in 1988. But it’s 2020 now, and things seem to get stranger by the day.

If these Trump-loving conspiracy creators would just take a few deep breaths and look at the election results through the lens of objectivity rather than the kind of default paranoia that has come to define large swaths of the Republican Party, they might calm down enough to see that Trump never had the kind of broad popular support it takes to be re-elected. In fact, he barely had enough support to cobble together what many consider a fluke victory in 2016.

Trump failed in his re-election bid not only because he did a poor job as president, especially in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, but because he comes across as a self-important jerk.

In 2016, 45.9% of American voters approved of Trump’s tantrum-riddled behavior, or overlooked it, and even though 48% of the electorate voted for Clinton-Kaine, they happened to live in the right places to get him elected.

But in 2020, the 47.1% of voters who either approved of or overlooked Trump’s immature and hypersensitive personality were outnumbered by an even larger margin — 51.1% — and this time, the majority prevailed.

The only conspiracy here is one of denial by Trump and his sycophants who offer little to nothing in the way of evidence and seem to repeatedly rest their case on baseless allegations and wild-eyed insistence that something has to be wrong, even if they can’t determine just what that something is.

Thankfully, the voters have spoken, and thus far, the courts are not inclined to silence the will of the people.

Trump and his functionaries may prefer to pout and live their lives in make-believe worlds where everything that doesn’t go their way is rigged or fraudulent, but in reality, most American voters just got tired of a selfish man with the temperament of a spoiled child living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

News and ideas worthy of discourse.

Darren Richardson

Written by

Headline writer & copy editor for 15-plus years in newspapers (1990–2006) ; digital professional since 2008. Twitter: https://twitter.com/darren_medium

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

Darren Richardson

Written by

Headline writer & copy editor for 15-plus years in newspapers (1990–2006) ; digital professional since 2008. Twitter: https://twitter.com/darren_medium

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

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