Fact Check: Reporter Vastly Exaggerates Biden’s Popular Vote Margin, CNN Let’s Her Get Away with Mistake

Fact Check: Reporter Vastly Exaggerates Biden’s Popular Vote
Margin, CNN Let’s Her Get Away with Mistake 1

Correspondent Charlotte Alter, who authored a piece about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being named Time’s “Person of the Year,” apparently misspoke or needs a lesson in history.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” to explain the choice, the Time reporter told host Brian Stelter, “Biden and Harris won overwhelmingly, by a popular vote margin not seen since FDR in 1932. And Time has a long history of selecting the recently elected president as the person of the year.”

On its face, that statement is wrong — and Stelter didn’t correct her on it. There have been many times since 1932 in which the margin of victory (in terms of percentage points and/or number of votes) was greater: 13 by the Media Research Center’s count.

If Alter meant to say the largest percentage of the vote against an incumbent since 1932, as some other media outlets have pointed out, that’s kind of a silly stat.

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Ronald Reagan trounced Jimmy Carter in 1980, winning by 8.4 million votes or 50.7 percent to 41 percent, a margin of 9.6 percentage points.

If current numbers hold, Biden defeated Trump by about 7 million votes, or 51.3 percent to 46.8 percent, a margin of victory of 4.5 percentage points.

So Reagan more than doubled Biden’s percentage point margin of victory, though Biden edged out the Gipper by 0.6 percentage points in the share of the popular vote.

Independent John Anderson won 5.7 million votes in the 1980 contest, so Reagan actually managed to beat both his contenders and still get a majority of the popular vote.

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It should be noted that Trump won more raw votes (74.2 million) than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history with the exception of Biden.

Further, the president’s coattails helped Republicans flip 13 seats in the House, while Biden’s massive vote tally yielded just three flips for Democrats. (More on that in a moment.)

In her puff piece trying to really build up Biden and Harris, Alter did rightly recognize that the former vice president’s win came with the highest voter turnout in a century and flipped five battleground states Trump carried in 2016.

The former statistic probably has a lot to do with mail-in ballots and/or ballot applications being sent to every registered voter on the rolls in some states

Alter painted Biden’s decision to essentially not campaign as an act of political courage.

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The reporter also wrote that “Polling shows three-quarters of Trump voters wrongly believe the election was tainted by fraud.”

Why would the president’s supporters believe fraud was involved in Biden’s flipping of battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia?

Besides whistleblower statements under penalty of perjury to that effect, let me count the ways.

The first was already hinted at above: It’s very rare for incumbent presidents to lose while their party gains seats in the House.

Save 1992, there is no other example in U.S. history.

In that election, Democrat Bill Clinton defeated Republican George H.W. Bush; however, Clinton won with just 43 percent of the vote, due to Ross Perot being in the race as an independent candidate.

In other words, the conservative vote, or at least the right-of-center vote, actually won the majority of the electorate.

That’s not the end of the abnormalities.

Patrick Basham, director of the Democracy Institute, told Fox News host Mark Levin earlier this month that the “numbers just don’t add up” regarding Biden’s win.

“If you look at the results, you see how Donald Trump improved his national performance over 2016 by almost 20 percent. No incumbent has ever lost a re-election bid if he’s increased his votes,” Basham said.

Basham noted that Trump did better with minorities than any Republican candidate since 1960.

The president also won 95 percent of the GOP vote and performed well among women, Catholics and white working-class males, he said.

Another puzzling aspect of the 2020 election results was the historically low absentee ballot rejection rate.

“In these key swing states, at least in the key swing counties, we’re seeing rejection rates of less than 1 percent, often really close to zero,” Basham said.

“Now given the increase in absentee balloting, and lack of experience that most of the new voters and those doing the counting would have with those ballots, it is implausible, to put it politely, that that figure would be as low as it was,” he explained.

In a piece for The American Spectator, which Levin praised at the outset of the interview, Basham went into more detail about the 2020 anomalies.

He highlighted how odd it was that Trump carried Ohio handily (8 percentage points), but other neighboring Rust Belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin went for Biden. They usually swing together.

Trump, in fact, won them all in 2016, while Barack Obama took all four in 2012.

“Current tallies show that, outside of a few cities, the Rust Belt swung in Trump’s direction. Yet, Biden leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because of an apparent avalanche of black votes in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee,” Basham wrote.

Basham further argued that the major shift in these swing cities tallies all came the same way: After vote counting stopped for a period of time, late election night and observers went home having been told ballot processing would continue in the morning.

Trump was comfortably ahead in each case, but not for long.

“Statistically abnormal vote counts were the new normal when counting resumed,” Basham wrote. “They were unusually large in size (hundreds of thousands) and had an unusually high (90 percent and above) Biden-to-Trump ratio.”

So Biden and Harris’ “win” is not historic in the way that Alter stated, intentionally or not. But in terms of anomalies that call into question its very legitimacy, yes, it’s very historic.

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