In an overwhelming number of cases, Trump came up short of his 2016 victory margins in the counties where he held rallies in the two weeks before the election, NBC reported. In a significant number of cases, he either increased his negative margins or lost the counties to rival Joe Biden that he won the last time around.
Trump held 30 campaign rallies the final two weeks before the election in states from Arizona to Nebraska to Pennsylvania, NBC noted. Trump won larger victory margins than he did in 2016 in just five of the counties. In the rest, his negative margins grew and his positive margins shrunk, so much so that some counties flipped blue.
NBC cautioned that Trump may have done even worse in some cases without the rallies.
But the findings present a clear warning against gauging national, or even state, popularity based on rally turnouts, which tend to draw those who would vote for a candidate in any case. The rallies also represent a minuscule fraction of the vote.
Trump and his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have repeatedly expressed astonishment that Trump lost the election, given the president’s campaign schedule and the enthusiasm of people attending his rallies.
Eric Trump is perplexed that anyone could believe the results, according to a tweet he posted Saturday. People responding informed him that rallies are not necessarily a reliable barometer of voter support and that votes and rally attendance are not the same.
What the rallies did accomplish was to increase COVID-19 infections, according to research from Stanford University. The research conservatively tied Trump’s rallies to at least 700 deaths — and counting. Some 30,000 people became sick with the virus because of the rallies and may face lifelong health problems. Communities that hosted Trump’s events “paid a high price in terms of disease and death,” the researchers concluded in a working paper.
Few of those attending Trump’s packed rallies wore masks and clearly did not observe social distancing guidelines. In a number of cases, Trump angrily ignored COVID-19 regulations and pleas from local officials not to hold the dangerous rallies as COVID-19 cases surged.
Joe Biden’s far lower campaign profile was an attempt to limit exposure to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
For a detailed analysis of Trump’s vote results in counties where he held rallies, check out the NBC News story here.