Fact check: Map shows 2016 – not 2020 – presidential election results

Social media users have been sharing a map of the United States that is predominantly shaded in red, with small patches of blue in order to imply that the Republican party did win the 2020 presidential election. However, the map shows election results from 2016 not 2020.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The posts (here  ,  here) , shared after the 2020 presidential election, show a map of the United States counties, which seems to be shaded red or blue according to vote share. Most of the map is shaded in red. Captions include, “Pretty RED to me” and “I’d say it’s pretty much all red, but maybe I’m seeing things?”

Biden won the 2020 presidential election with 306 Electoral College votes – many more than the 270 required - to Trump’s 232, the same margin by which Trump beat Hilary Clinton in 2016 before the Electoral College. The electors of the Electoral College are scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 to formalize the outcome. The 2020 U.S. election results can be seen on the Reuters website  here  .

President Donald Trump has now said that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for Biden, however he has refused to fully acknowledge his defeat. Trump tweeted multiple times saying that he won the election (here  ,  here), initially blocked Biden’s transition process and continues to make repeated unfounded allegations of massive voter fraud (here) .

The image being shared on social media has been circulating since 2016. It appears on Wikimedia Commons, called “2016 Nationwide US presidential county map shaded by vote share” (here) . The page says the author of the map is a user called “Magog the Ogre”, who uploaded it on Nov. 10 2016.

The election result by counties shown in the map shared on social media matches data from the New York Times  here  .

Since the 2016 image has been used in online articles about the 2016 presidential election, as seen here  ,  here and here .

Comparing the 2016 map with the Wikimedia Commons presidential election results by county for 2020, it is evident that more counties are blue in 2020 (here). Reuters Graphics has visualised this change from 2016 to 2020 by county here  .

Maps showing votes by county can be misleading as rural counties represent a lot of land mass but do not have as many people as urban counties. This is visualised by “Engaging Data”  (here when “show land circles” is selected it looks like the Republicans dominated the 2020 election but when  “show population circles” is selected, the Democrat victory is evident. The idea that different maps can give very different interpretations of election results is explained in these articles by Wired and Bloomberg  (here  ,  here) .


False. This map shows the presidential election results from 2016 not 2020.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .