Fact Check: Is a Lack of Down Ticket Votes a Proof of Fraud?

One of the many things presented as evidence that Democrats committed electoral fraud in the 2020 Presidential election is the claim that there's a statistically unusual number of votes for Joe Biden that are "missing" for the Democratic candidate for the Senate:

The original poster has blocked me from seeing this tweet after I posted my first fact check, but it looks like Medium was able to embed it.

The claim goes on to include other states that present a similar "anomaly", showing an apparent pattern of unusual vote counts, only in swing states, adding up to proof of voter fraud. The claim, in order to make sense, alleges that there were tens of thousands of fake ballots in these states that were cast in favor of Biden, but that for some reason did not bother to mark the down ticket Democratic candidates.

When asked to explain the theory, some of its supporters offer the idea that the people making fake ballots didn't have time to mark the vote for the other candidates:

https://twitter.com/DdNo30/status/1324462462687653890

Since I haven't seen any of the prominent fact checkers out there tackle this one, I decided to give it a shot. I downloaded the election results from Decision Desk HQ, and put them into a spreadsheet. The data, and all the results below, can be viewed here.

Michigan

The first thing that was evident is that the numbers presented do not include any third-party candidates, neither in the Presidential election, nor in the Senate races.

When adding in Presidential candidates Jorgensen, Hawkins, De La Fuente and Blankenship, and comparing to all the votes for Senator, including Willis, Squier and Dern, it’s revealed that there are only 58,881 missing down-ticket votes in all, or roughly 1%. Furthermore, the Green Party candidate for Senate, Squier, received 25,105 MORE votes than the Green Party’s Presidential candidate. Since the Green Party is left of the Democratic Party, it’s a reasonable assumption that many (HALF!) of the people that voted for Squier split their ticket and voted for Biden in order to prevent Trump from winning the state.

The Green Party has 25k MORE votes for Senator than President

Second, the results presented as unusual are given at the aggregate state level. If the larger number of missing votes for Democratic Senator are due to fake ballots created in a rush as alleged, one would expect to see an oversized difference in the counties in which the fraud occurred. This would most likely be in a state in which Biden won, due to the number of fraudulent votes in his favor. However, the counties that voted in favor of Biden do not show an unusual number of missing down ticket votes.

Biden Counties

Some counties show signs of Republicans splitting their votes between Biden and the Republican Senator, which is a common strategy for people voting against Trump, rather than for Biden. The fact that the numbers are consistent across counties speaks strongly against the idea that a small group of people fabricated ballots for Biden with no time to vote down ticket.

Georgia

In Georgia, it's the same. This time, there was no Green Party candidate in the Senate, nor for President. However, the Libertarian Party shows the same pattern of splitting their ticket in favor of Biden.

The Libertarian Party has 52k MORE votes for Senator than President

This accounts for more than half of the "missing" votes for the Democratic Senator.

An analysis of the blue counties also shows the same effect: the only "outliers" were counties with less than 1000 missing votes; the remainder are close to the state average in terms of missing down ticket votes.

Georgia also showed a repeat of the pattern of more ticket splitting between Biden and the Republican candidate for Senate in the more densely populated counties.

Texas

While it may seem impossible at first glance, we now know that this may indeed be a statistically possibility, especially in a state as big as Texas. While I don't have time at the moment to do the more detailed analysis for the other states above, I can do a quick breakdown at the state level:

Texas Presidential Results

As with the other states, about half the "missing" down ticket votes can be attributed to a split ticket. The remainder seems to be a common trend this year. Texas does show a slightly higher rate of missing votes for Senator, and there may be anomalies at the county level, but in this case, there is no impact on election results: Trump handily won Texas by over 500,000 votes. If there was any fraud committed in favor of Biden, it failed to make a difference.

TL;DR — No

The numbers are not statistically surprising, especially for an election that was "all about Trump". Many people split their tickets, either between a Republican Senator and Biden, or a third party and Biden. The fact that this occurred in swing states is not surprising: residents of swing states were acutely aware of their importance, and would have had a higher incentive to split their votes.

Note: While researching links for this fact check, I came across another take on this question by King 5 News in Seattle, WA.

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I'm a founder of the Canonical Debate Lab and tech guy at The Society Library, working on the Wikipedia for Debates. One of my side projects, just getting started, is a Subreddit for crowd-sourcing fact checks. Come contribute at r/so_prove_it.

Founder of The Canonical Debate Lab