As news of Donald Trump’s latest attempt at subverting the election results dominates the airwaves, I felt it necessary to conduct a brief review of some facts.
1) When asked about their voting preferences, Americans routinely told pollsters that they intended to vote for Biden over Trump. At the time of the election, Biden held a national polling advantage of roughly 8 percentage points.
2) Biden out-fundraised Trump by a significant margin. In August and September, for example, Biden shattered fundraising records, pulling in $364 million and $383 million, respectively. During those same months, Trump raised just $210 million and $248 million, leading to a financial shortfall that saw him pulling ads in key states.
3) Trump’s approval rating has routinely been low—much lower, in fact, than his predecessors who were able to secure reelection.
And while Biden’s approval rating took a dip upon announcing his bid for the presidency (it was 56% in March of 2019 and fell into the 40s following his announcement), they were consistently above Donald Trump’s in every Gallup poll conducted.
Now, these measures for comparison are far from infallible. As we’ve seen, polling is subject to error, and this election saw more than one Democratic challenger lose to the Republican incumbent despite significant fundraising advantages. But they combine to paint a picture different from that depicted by Donald Trump—one in which Joe Biden’s only shot at securing the presidency was via the mechanisms of fraud and impropriety.
In actuality, Joe Biden’s polling advantage was 8.4% to Hillary Clinton’s 3.9%. Biden raised $364 and $383 million in August and September, respectively, to Clinton’s $143 and $154 million. Biden’s favorability rating prior to the election ran roughly 10 points higher than Clinton’s in the lead-up to November. And FiveThirtyEight gave Trump nearly a 30% chance of beating Clinton, while he was afforded only a 10% chance of besting Biden. All that to say, Joe Biden was an unquestionably stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton was, and yet she still managed to win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and only lost the electoral college by a combined 77,000 votes in 3 states.
Having said that, the fact that Joe Biden won the election is not an anomaly that need be explained by fraud. To the contrary, for Donald Trump to have won would have required a small miracle.
And unfortunately for Donald Trump, as we saw with his many promises that COVID would magically disappear, 2020 was short on miracles.