Trump lost support in most of the places where he held his final campaign rallies

  • President Trump lost support between 2016 and 2020 in most of the areas where he held rallies in the final weeks of the election campaign, according to an NBC analysis.
  • In 25 of the 30 counties Trump visited, he lost ground from 2016.
  • Trump's support increased in just 5 of the 30 counties analysed by NBC.
  • The data challenges the narrative promoted by senior Trump aides which suggests that the size of the president's rallies are an indication of his popularity compared to Biden.
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President Trump lost support between 2016 and 2020 in most of the areas where he held rallies in the final weeks of the election campaign, according to an NBC analysis of his campaign stops.

NBC News analysed Trump's 30 campaign stops made in the two weeks before the final Election Day on November 3 before Biden was projected to have defeated the sitting president by 306 electoral college votes to 232.

In 25 of the counties Trump visited, he achieved a smaller margin of victory than in 2016 or lost the county altogether, and he achieved a bigger margin of victory in just 5, NBC reported.

The data does not prove whether the campaign stops had a net positive effect or whether his margin of defeat would have been even greater in those counties had he not made those stops at all.

However, it does call into question parallel drawn by Trump and his supporters between the size of his rallies and his performance in the election.

Campaign figures including Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, have claimed without evidence that the size of Trump rallies provide evidence that Biden was unlikely to have won the election.

"I think it's very hard for people to rationalize that a guy like Joe Biden — who could barely scrape together 12 people to go to a campaign event for him, you know, even a couple of weeks ago — suddenly somehow got around 80 million votes," said Lara Trump in November.

"Donald Trump gained 10 million votes from 2016. We all were out working across the country hard. You saw that tens of thousands of people would come to Trump events and then, like, 12 to 20 people showing up to a Joe Biden event," she said.

The president on Sunday tweeted "NO WAY WE LOST THIS ELECTION!" in reference to a video showing a large presence at one of his rallies.

The Trump campaign has failed to produce evidence to substantiate its claims of widespread voter fraud in the election. Multiple lawsuits filed by the president's lawyers which contested the election's outcome have also been unsuccessful. 

The president, who held dozens of rallies throughout this year despite the coronavirus pandemic, told crowds on several occasions during the campaign that he was only holding the rallies because he believed they would boost his vote count.

He told a crowd in Michigan at one such rally in October that — were it not for the pandemic — he would not have been forced to speak to the assembled crowd of supporters.

"I probably wouldn't be standing out here in the freezing rain with you. I'd be home in the White House, doing whatever the hell I was doing. I wouldn't be out here," he told the audience in Ingham County, Michigan. Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016 before Biden flipped the state back this year.

Trump's margin of defeat in Ingham County went on to increase from 27% to 32%, per NBC.

The president made similar comments during a campaign rally in Erie County, Pennsylvania — a key swing county in a battleground state — earlier in October.

"Four or five months ago when we started this whole thing — because, you know, before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn't coming to Erie," Trump said. "I mean, I have to be honest, there's no way I was coming."

Trump went onto lose the state by 1 point, having won it by 1.6 points in 2016, per NBC. He also lost Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.

Campaign figures including Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, have claimed without evidence that the size of Trump rallies provide evidence that Biden was unlikely to have won the election.

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