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President-elect Donald Trump did not win Erie County in the November election. But he did well enough in upstate New York’s largest concentration of Democrats to excite Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy.
"Donald Trump performed better than any presidential nominee since Gerald Ford, and we found that to be substantial," Langworthy told WBFO, the NPR member station in Buffalo. "He carried towns that haven't gone Republican in years and years in a presidential election, towns like West Seneca and Hamburg. And, he won Cheektowaga, a critical town."
So did Trump really get better results in Erie County than any Republican nominee since Gerald Ford?
Difference in votes
Langworthy based his claim on the margin between Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival. She won 27,153 more votes than Trump in Erie County, according to the Erie County Board of Elections.
That’s a tighter margin than in any previous presidential election since 1984, when Democrat Walter Mondale beat Reagan by 15,049 votes in Erie County. Ford’s margin was even tighter in 1976, when he lost to Jimmy Carter by 9,087 votes in Erie County.
Number of votes
We also looked at the total number of votes the candidates received.
Trump received 188,303 votes in Erie County in the 2016 election -- more votes in Erie County for a Republican candidate for president since 1988, when George H.W. Bush won 188,796 votes.
Reagan received 222,882 votes in his 1984 re-election race.
Ford won 220,310 votes in Erie County in 1976.
Percentage of votes
Looking at the candidates’ percentage of the vote - not their vote counts - offers a more accurate gauge of their strength because Erie County’s population has fallen since the 1970s.
Trump won 44.4 percent of the total vote in Erie County - excluding blank and voided ballots - in the 2016 election. That is the highest percentage for a Republican candidate since the 1984 election, when Reagan won 48.2 percent of the county vote. Ford won 48.7 percent of the vote in his race in 1976.
Langworthy said "Donald Trump performed better than any presidential nominee since Gerald Ford" in Erie County.
When we reached Langworthy to ask about his claim, he acknowledged his mistake. He said he made the claim before he had the official results from the county Board of Elections.
"I think it’s significant that he performed as well as he did," Langworthy said of Trump’s vote tally in Erie County. "My point is that Democrats came over to vote for him."
Trump won the highest percentage of the Erie County vote for president since the 1984 election. Trump did better than any Republican candidate since Reagan - not Ford. Reagan’s number of votes and percentage of votes were higher than Trump’s.
We rate Langworthy’s claim as False.
"NYS, local GOP enjoying victory tour", WBFO, Dec. 14, 2016, Accessed Dec. 15, 2016
Phone conversation with Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy
Phone and email conversation with the Erie County Board of Elections
Election results from 1976 - 2000 obtained from the Erie County Board of Elections via email
Election results from 2004 - 2016 on the Erie County Board of Elections website, Accessed Dec. 29, 2016
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