Memorandum: How The 2020 Election Could Have Been Stolen

by | Jan 6, 2021


As a citizen who is also a political scientist, I have tried to do due diligence to assess what happened in the recent election. Who won what and at what level and what does it mean? And what about the charges of vote fraud? People keep asking me what I think, and I decided to write down the conclusions I have reached to date and on what grounds. Because charges of vote fraud have called the outcome of the presidential election into question, I have paid particular attention to them.

This memorandum is not written to persuade. It merely records my findings and reflections. Few people are really open to persuasion in any case—not just on political subjects but on any subject about which they care and on which they have adopted certain views. Diehard partisans for a certain outlook will refuse to have their beliefs questioned, and so will many others. They will be no less dismissive of a document challenging their opinions if it is full of footnotes and appendixes. Such a document will, indeed, make them resist it even more. As for the relatively few people who are truly open-minded, they will not find another person’s observations dispositive. They will, as they should, want to consider the evidence on a contested matter for themselves.

I hope that I am not deceiving myself when I say that I have not reached my conclusions regarding the 2020 election because of partisanship. I am a close student of politics, but have never belonged to a political party. If I have a bias, I suppose it is that of one who is largely alienated from both of the American parties and who believes that both of the presidential candidates in 2020 have major flaws.

It should be obvious that the issue of the legitimacy of the election is too touchy and inflamed for my view of what happened to settle it for anyone. There are numerous legal challenges to the vote in a number of states. Those charging fraud have had just a few weeks to prepare their cases, and much of the supporting material is hard to understand for those who are not political scientists, computer geeks, or statisticians. Whatever the veracity of the allegations, there is a large and growing amount of material to consider—this despite the media mantra that the charges are “baseless” or “unsupported.”

It is widely recognized that especially in their coverage of matters related to Donald Trump, the mainstream media long ago abandoned any pretense of impartiality. It is nevertheless remarkable that the media have not investigated even the more plausible-looking of the allegations of vote fraud. It did not take me long to realize that the charges were far more serious and credible than the American public had been told. In fact, this memorandum reviews the election with special reference to the allegations of fraud. I had barely begun looking into them when I noticed that, very shortly after the election, European experts on American elections, some of whom also had advanced expertise in statistics, had published articles or given interviews in which they claimed to have seen clear evidence that the election was “rigged”! In Sweden of all places, an expert on American elections published a series of articles showing that Biden’s win in the swing states simply could not be explained without assuming major fraud. Since Donald Trump is even more disdained by the media in Europe than he is here, I was surprised to hear a few European commentators refer to the presidential election as if its fraudulence should be obvious to all. I became even more curious about puzzling aspects of the election, but was still skeptical. You can find support for virtually any point of view on the Internet.

This summary of my views of the election will for the most part be confined to political-sciency observations. Although electronic ballot stuffing may be the most important of the fraud allegations, I will, because of a lack of proficiency in statistics and computer science, not go into depth on the vote anomalies that experts in these fields regard as by themselves sufficient proof of fraud.

General Trends in the Election

I will begin by offering some observations that may be elementary to a political scientist, but that, despite their large and obvious significance, have not received the kind of public attention that should have been automatic and plentiful.

First of all, the historical record indicates that when a sitting president increases his vote totals relative to his original election, he is reelected. President Trump did increase his vote, not by hundreds of thousands of votes, but by over 10 million (not counting votes of which his supporters claim that he was robbed). Trump’s support among Hispanics, a group often described as hostile to him, expanded to 32 percent, even more among Hispanic men. His support among blacks increased this year by 50 percent.

Another basic fact: certain American states almost always go with the winner. Florida and Ohio are at the top of that list, partly because they reflect the demographic composition of the US as a whole. If you add Iowa, you can predict with high confidence that the winner of those three states will also be the winner of the presidential election. Trump not only carried these states, he won them very comfortably, Ohio and Iowa by about 8 percent, Florida by over 3 percent. In 1960, the outcome in these states was not the same as in the general election. What presidential election was that? Nixon-Kennedy. That is the election that was almost certainly stolen for JFK in Illinois (Cook County) and Texas. That is the election that produced the anomaly of someone winning the presidency without carrying Ohio. After 1960, winning the presidency only while carrying Ohio again became the norm. In 2020, however, Biden somehow managed without Ohio.

Let me next be a little more granular. There is another measure of who is the winner in a presidential election that is even more persuasive. This measure indicates that there was something very strange, even inexplicable, about the outcome of this year’s presidential election in the swing states. There are numerous bellwether counties across the United States that almost always vote for the winner in the national election. There are counties that voted for the winner in the presidential elections from 1980 to 2016. In 2020, with rare exceptions, these counties suddenly reversed course. They did not vote for the person regarded as the winner, but for Donald Trump. Nineteen counties have been identified whose vote is viewed as a particularly good predictor of the outcome in the presidential election. They are virtually certain to go with the winner. It has been assumed that if a candidate carries 15 to 16 of those 19 counties, he is also bound to be the winner of the presidency.

How, then, did the 2020 election turn out in those bellwether counties? Trump won no fewer than 18 of the 19! Even more telling, he improved his performance in these counties. A county having been on the list of voting for the winner of presidential elections for a very long time does not by itself make the outcome there more predictive, but a few examples of such counties are striking. Valencia County in New Mexico has mirrored the outcome of every presidential election since 1952. In that county, Trump won by 10 percent in 2020. Indiana’s Vigo County voted for every president except two since 1882. This year, Trump carried that county by 15 percent. Westmoreland County in Virginia has failed only twice since 1928 to vote for the winner of the presidential election. Trump carried that county by 16 percent. These are but specific illustrations of a trend in the competitive counties that favored Trump about as emphatically and overwhelmingly as was possible.

Given Trump’s nationwide surge, it is not surprising that, contrary to media predictions of “a blue wave,” the Republicans actually gained 13 seats in the House of Representatives. Not a single Republican incumbent House member lost—not a single one! Although far more Republicans than Democrats were up for reelection in the Senate, they were able to defend their hold on that body. (Run-offs for two Senate seats in Georgia are, as of this writing, have yet to be held.) Republicans generally did very well down-ballot. They captured both houses in the New Hampshire legislature.

Biden Had a Huge Money Advantage

It is relevant that the successes for Trump and his party took place despite unexampled, almost unbelievable levels of spending on the part of the pro-Biden, anti-Trump cause. The Democrats vastly outspent Republicans. Michael Bloomberg all by himself spent something like $5 per voter in Florida. Another example is the staggering amounts spent by billionaires, notably Big Tech executives. Much of it has been referred to as “dark money” because it largely bypassed campaign finance laws. One example is Mark Zuckerberg’s pouring some $500 million into the election to boost the Biden vote. He did so in part by donating about $350 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which worked to induce voter participation in carefully selected parts of states and municipalities. This included offering election authorities money for putting voting drop-boxes in certain areas. It has been widely charged that these efforts were not just blatantly partisan but violated laws forbidding some ways of inducing people to go to the polls.

It can also be argued that by censuring information detrimental to Biden during the campaign, the social media giants offered him a huge in-kind contribution. It is hard to put a monetary value on the virtually unbounded support for Biden in the mainstream media, but it obviously gave him an enormous advantage.

Still an Uphill Struggle

Biden’s tremendous financial advantage is bound to have helped him, but we can tell now that he was nevertheless fighting an uphill battle. He had to overcome a Trump surge. Consider some important and very striking indications of how Biden did. An astonishing example of his meeting strong resistance is that he won fewer American counties than any previous modern American president-elect. Obama won 873 counties in 2008. Biden barely captured 500 in 2020! (Trump won about 2,550 counties.) The record of a winner? His percentage of the vote per state did not even match that of Hillary Clinton. Democrats are ordinarily dependent on the black vote being 85 to 90 percent in their favor to win a presidential election. Biden was not very close to that percentage. He received a much lower percentage of black votes than Obama and an even lower percentage than Hillary Clinton. Among black men he did not reach 80 percent, for Democrats a worrisomely low number. The Democrats’ share of the Hispanic vote was also down. Not only did Biden not have any coattails, he dragged his party down in congressional and state elections. Winners of the presidency routinely pick up seats for their party. Biden lost 13 seats.

Read the whole article here.


  • Claes G. Ryn

    Ryn's areas of research and teaching include the history of Western political thought, politics and the imagination, historicism, the theory of knowledge, conservatism, American political thought, constitutionalism, and the moral and cultural dimensions of international relations. Ryn has taught also at the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, and Louisiana State University.

    View all posts