During his failed campaign for reelection, President Donald Trump hosted dozens of massive rallies, whose robust attendance, he said, was an indication that he had the votes to win in 2020. But, a new report from NBC News on Monday revealed that the outgoing commander-in-chief underperformed by an embarrassing amount in the exact same counties where he held those large rallies. In fact, for the most part, he performed better in those same counties in 2016. Sad!
Called the “Trump Rallies: Help or Hurt?” tally, the study looked at the last two weeks that Trump was campaigning before Election Day. It found that, out of 30 counties in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida where he held rallies, Trump’s 2016 margin only improved in five. And in the other 25? NBC News reports that "his margins of victory got smaller, his margin of defeat grew or the county flipped Democratic." In Michigan, home of frequent Trump target Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Trump "held five events in the last two weeks of the campaign and in every one of those counties, his 2020 margins were worse than they were in 2016." Considering that Michigan was a popular stop for Trump’s campaign, where he not only egged the crowd on to “rise up” against Whitmer and “lock her up,” but also made a plea to suburban women to show up to the polls for him, this is a huge failure.
The tally also looked at Pennsylvania, where his 2020 margin dropped by 3 and 5 points after the seven events he held in Erie, Lancaster and Lackawanna counties. The only state where Trump did see a slight boost in numbers was in Florida, where he campaigned four times before Election Day. While his 2020 numbers got worse by a 0.1 to 5 point difference in Hillsborough and Escambia counties, Trump supporters in Miami-Dade county showed up and came out for him by improving his 2020 margin by almost 22 points.
It's hard to say exactly why Trump could still draw big crowds but not have it translate into votes. Maybe it's because he and his administration provided a lack of financial assistance in the midst of a global pandemic? Or maybe it had something to do with the 268,000+ people who have died under his watch? Hard to say, but a noticeable amount of Trump voters seem to have cared more about attending hate-filled rallies than going to the polls.
Trump's rallies did reflect his presidency in one important way: They were all for show, and didn't accomplish much at all. It doesn’t matter how many people showed up to those rallies, waved the merch, and agreed with his despicable rhetoric — in the end, it wasn't enough to win.