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Viral Posts Misrepresent California Primary Results


Quick Take

Viral posts falsely claim President Donald Trump received more votes in the California primary than the top two Democratic candidates combined. Unofficial totals show that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden received 1,842,471 votes; Trump received 1,486,415.


Full Story

A viral post on Facebook shows outdated tallies for the 2020 California Democratic primary. The meme, which appears to be an edited photo from Google’s election results summary, claims to show total vote counts in California for presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and President Donald Trump.

The post claims “Trump got more votes in California than Biden and Bernie combined.” It incorrectly reports that Sanders received 557,959 votes and Biden 357,410, for a total 915,369. The post then wrongly states Trump received 1,109,805 votes.

The meme was first uploaded to Facebook on March 4 by the group President Trump Fans before spreading to other pages. But the posts do not show updated vote counts for each candidate.

California was one of 14 states to hold a primary on March 3 — Super Tuesday, when the greatest number of delegates are at stake in the presidential primary election on a single day. Due to high turnout and voting machine errors, voting in the California primary extended hours past the official closing time at many polls, causing vote counts to be updated well into the night.

The California Secretary of State reported that as of 1 p.m. on March 5, Sanders actually received 1,057,706 votes, Biden received 784,765, and Bloomberg received 441,691. Sanders’ and Biden’s combined total is 1,842,471, which exceeds Trump’s 1,486,415 votes. California will continue to update primary results until April 3 to account for additional ballots, including mail-in votes and provisional ballots.

The viral posts seem to suggest Trump could win in California in the 2020 general election, but the state has gone to the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1992, according to the records of the California Secretary of State. There were 9,361,582 registered Democrats and 4,937,986 registered Republicans in California as of Feb. 18.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Phillips, Amber. “What is Super Tuesday and why is it important?” Washington Post. 4 Mar 2020.

“President Democratic – Statewide Results.” California Secretary of State. Accessed 5 Mar 2020.

“President Republican – Statewide Results.” California Secretary of State. Accessed 5 Mar 2020.

Myers, John et al. “L.A. County voters encounter hours-long waits and glitches with brand-new system.” Los Angeles Times. 4 Mar 2020.

“County Reporting Status.” California Secretary of State. Accessed 4 Mar 2020.

“Unprocessed Ballots Status.” California Secretary of State. Accessed 4 Mar 2020.

“Prior Statewide Elections.” California Secretary of State. Accessed 5 Mar 2020.

“15-Day Report of Registration.” California Historical Registration Statistics. Accessed 5 Mar 2020.