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Then-candidate Donald Trump shakes the hand of a supporter during a rally in Charleston, W.Va., on May 5, 2016. (AP) Then-candidate Donald Trump shakes the hand of a supporter during a rally in Charleston, W.Va., on May 5, 2016. (AP)

Then-candidate Donald Trump shakes the hand of a supporter during a rally in Charleston, W.Va., on May 5, 2016. (AP)

By Victoria Gennuso October 2, 2019
By Ryan Schmitt October 2, 2019

Did Donald Trump win West Virginia by 42 points in 2016?

At a rally in neighboring southwestern Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump trumpeted his wide 2016 presidential election victory in West Virginia.

"I won that one by 42 points -- 42 points -- West Virginia," Trump said during his Aug. 13 speech in Monaca, Pa. 

That would be a big win. Was his victory in the Mountaineer State that large? 

The Trump campaign pointed us to the official results on the website of the West Virginia Secretary of State, which showed that Trump won West Virginia with 68.63%, outpacing his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, with 26.48%. The difference is 42.15 percentage points -- right in tune with what Trump said.

West Virginia accounted for Trump’s second-widest margin of victory of any state, following Wyoming at 46.29%.

The 2016 results were also the latest sign of the widening of the gap between Republicans and Democrats in West Virginia, a state where Democrats were once dominant.

The following chart shows how Democratic margins of victory in the presidential race shrank between 1992 and 1996, then produced increasingly large Repubilcan margins of victory.

 

As the Pew Research Center has noted, this pattern has coincided with the increasing alignment of national partisan politics on certain demographic factors, notably race, educational attainment and population density.

Geographical areas that are less racially diverse, less college-educated and more rural have swung hard to the Republican Party in recent years, especially in federal-level elections. When Governing magazine recently analyzed all 50 states on these three demographic factors, it found that West Virginia had the strongest Republican-aligned demographics of any state.

Our ruling

Trump said that in the 2016 presidential election in West Virginia, he won by 42 points. He’s correct; in fact, it was his second-widest margin in any state, trailing only Wyoming. We rate the statement True.

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Did Donald Trump win West Virginia by 42 points in 2016?

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