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Fact check: Map does not show 2020 presidential election results but digital rendering based on 2016

Tens of thousands of social media users have been sharing posts that purport to show a map of the 2020 presidential election results, with some users claiming that the map proves that Republicans won the election. This claim is false: the map shows the 2016 presidential election results, with the exception of Alaska for which the results do not match the 2020 or 2016 presidential elections.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The posts ( here , here ) show a map of the United States split into counties, where most of the map is coloured in red but some counties are shaded in blue. Captions include, “WE WON” and “Biden supporters seem to be really losing their minds at how angry they get when you tell them that Biden ‘won’ only 16% of the counties.”

The 2020 election results by county can be seen in Reuters Edison Research Election Results by state here and as a full map here . The map shared in the social media posts does not match the 2020 results: Biden won counties including Inyo County (California), Grand County (Utah), Garfield County (Colorado) and Ziebach County (South Dakota), all of which are shown as red on the map shared on social media (here). Some counties, including, Reeves County, La Salle County and Frio County, all in Texas, are shown as Democrat in the map shared on social media but were won by the Republicans in the 2020 election (here).

Biden won the 2020 presidential election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232 (the same margin by which Trump beat Hilary Clinton in 2016), as shown by sites including Reuters here , Fox News here , CNN here and NBC News here . On Dec. 14, the Electoral College confirmed Biden’s win (here) after Trump repeatedly made false allegations of widespread voter fraud, filing legal challenges to the vote totals and slowing the presidential transition.

The election map pictured in the social media posts was used in a graphic made in October 2019 by the co-founder of Jetpack.ai Karim Douïeb to represent the 2016 election results, seen here and here .

The animation was made to show how maps of election results by county can be misleading as rural counties represent a lot of land mass but do not have as many people as urban counties (here) . Douïeb created a similar map after the 2020 election results, here .

This concept is also visualised by “Engaging Data”  (here) when “show land circles” is selected, it appears the Republicans dominated the 2020 election but when “show population circles” is selected, the Democrat victory is evident. 

Maps of the 2016 presidential election results by county from the New York Times (here) and the Washington Post (here), show that the map used in the social media posts and Jetpack.ai graphic portray the results of the 2016 presidential election correctly, apart from Alaska, which they show to be wholly Republican when in reality seven of Alaska’s election districts voted Democrat.

It is possible that this is because Douïeb’s original animation was based on a map of election results tweeted by Lara Trump (here) and President Trump (here), which made several counties that were won by the Democrats appear Republican ( here , here ). Once they realised the map was inaccurate Jetpack.ai edited their map but did not change Alaska (here).

Reuters has debunked other maps falsely purporting to show the 2020 election results here , here .

VERDICT

False. The map shows the presidential election results from 2016, not 2020, for all states except Alaska.

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

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