Do Biden’s 306 Electoral Votes Match Trump’s Total in 2016?

In 2016, U.S. President Donald Trump called his 306 electoral votes a "landslide" victory.

  • Published 13 November 2020

Claim

President-elect Joe Biden won 306 Electoral College votes, the same total President Donald Trump won in 2016.

Rating

What's True

The projected results of the 2020 election show Joe Biden with 306 electoral college votes and President Donald Trump with 232 electoral college votes. This is the same total that was projected in the 2016 election.

What's False

However, the 2016 election saw a handful of "faithless electors" who altered the final tally of electoral college votes (the official count was 304 to 227).

What's Undetermined

As of this writing, the results of the 2020 election have not been officially certified.

Origin

Voting in the 2020 U.S. Election may be over, but the misinformation keeps on ticking. Never stop fact-checking. Follow our post-election coverage here.

On Nov. 13, 2020, news outlets such as NBC News, CNN, and The New York Times projected the winners of the final two states in the 2020 presidential election. They reported that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden had won Georgia, while incumbent President Donald Trump had won North Carolina, resulting in a total of 306 electoral college votes for Biden and 232 for Trump. Here’s the final election map from The New York Times:

As news of these projections started to circulate on social media, some users pointed out that this was the same final vote count as 2016. In that election, they claimed, Trump had come out on top with 306 electoral college votes, while candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election with 232 votes. 

This is largely accurate. In November 2016, when news outlets called the presidential election and projected that Trump would become the 45th president of the United States, the electoral college was divided into 306 votes for Trump and 232 for Clinton. Here’s an image of the results from Politico’s coverage in 2016:

However, the official tally at the end of the 2016 election was a little different, as a handful of “faithless electors” decided to cast their votes for someone other than the candidate selected by the people of their state. In total, two faithless electors defected from Trump and five defected from Clinton, leading to a final tally of 304 for Trump and 227 for Clinton. 

Who got those seven votes? According to the Federal Election Committee, two votes from Texas ended up being cast for John Kasich and Ron Paul, one vote from Hawaii was cast for Bernie Sanders, and three votes from Washington went to Colin Powell, while a fourth went to Faith Spotted Eagle. 

While Biden is projected to win 306 electoral college votes in the 2020 election as of this writing, it is possible (although unlikely) that this number will change. We’ll update this article when the election results are certified and the final tally is official. 

It’s worth noting that Trump, who has thus far refused to concede the election to Biden, has often referred to his 306 electoral college vote count haul as a “landslide” victory.

And despite the claim in this tweet, Trump did not win the popular vote in either contest. In 2016, he lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. In 2020, Trump is behind Biden by more than 5 million votes.