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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced the Fox News call time in Eastern Time. Fox called Wisconsin for Trump at 10:30 p.m. Central Time. This does not affect the rating of this claim.
Wisconsin was front and center on the national stage on Election Day 2016.
More exactly, on election night.
A key swing state, Wisconsin was a focal point for many networks as they tracked Donald Trump’s journey to an unexpected victory.
So it was surprising to hear Trump’s reference to that timeline in his most recent visit to our battleground state.
"I'm thrilled to be back in your great state — a state that I won," Trump said July 12, 2019, during a speech at Derco Aerospace where he touted the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. "And we won it not so late in the evening — a little bit early in the evening, actually, which is even better."
Let’s turn back the clock and see how well Trump’s account matches reality.
Any kind of "early" call for Wisconsin is tricky from the start given the number of states that are on Eastern Time.
In that election, 27 states — more than half — had polls close before Wisconsin’s did at 8 p.m. Central Time, according to MSNBC.
Another 14 states closed at the same time as Wisconsin, and many of those did have relatively early calls.
The Associated Press — which has projected races since 1848 and is relied upon in this role by news organizations throughout the country — declared a winner in nine of those 14 states within two hours of the polls closing.
The AP didn’t call Wisconsin until hours later.
The AP called the state for Trump at 1:29 a.m., releasing a bulletin at the same time saying Trump had exceeded 270 electoral votes and been elected president.
The outlier for Wisconsin projections was Fox News, which called the race for Trump at 10:30 p.m. on Election Day, some three-and-a-half hours after the polls closed. The other networks didn’t follow suit.
Even if you used 10:30 p.m. benchmark, Wisconsin was not among the "early" states. At that point, the AP had already projected winners in 38 other states and the District of Columbia.
Trump said he won Wisconsin "a little bit early in the evening" in 2016.
Fox News did project a Trump victory here by 10:30 p.m., but it was an outlier. The AP and CNN didn’t call Wisconsin for Trump until about 1:30 a.m.
And calling the Fox News projection "early" is a stretch anyhow, since about 80% of states had been called by that point.
We rate Trump’s claim False.
Wisconsin Elections Commission, Canvass Results for 2016 General Election, Dec. 22, 2016
YouTube.com, Donald Trump, Remarks: Donald Trump on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement in Milwaukee – July 12, 2019, July 12, 2019
Associated Press, Calling the presidential race state by state, Nov. 9, 2016
YouTube.com, Fox News projects: Donald Trump wins Wisconsin, Iowa, Nov. 8, 2016
YouTube.com, Trump wins Wisconsin, closes in on 270 electoral votes, Nov. 9, 2016
Twitter.com, CNN, Nov. 9, 2016
MSNBC, Poll closing times for each state on Election Day 2016, Nov. 8, 2016
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