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Two other states – Georgia and Arizona – actually had smaller margins during the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
That is true both by raw numbers and percentages.
The 2020 election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has been an ever-lasting topic for the Wisconsin Republicans running for governor.
Indeed, at least one of them is trying to raise money based on how tight the election is, noting money is needed to return a Republican to the governor’s office.
"Joe Biden’s margin of the less than 21,000 votes in Wisconsin was the tightest of any state in 2020," former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch noted in a June 8, 2022 email. "Make no mistake, the Left knows exactly what’s on the line in the Badger State this year."
Was Biden’s win in Wisconsin the tightest of any state?
That’s not how we remember it.
When asked for backup, Kleefisch’s team said the fundraising email contained an error and should read that the margin in Wisconsin was among the tightest in any state.
Alec Zimmerman, communications director for the Kleefisch campaign, said the error was promptly corrected in a follow-up email, but when asked, did not share a corrected email – nor could Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff members who received the first email find any corrected one in their inboxes.
Let’s go to the numbers.
According to a December 2020 NPR article, two other states came in with a smaller margin than the 20,682 votes by which Democrat Joe Biden topped then-President Donald Trump in Wisconsin.
In Arizona, Biden won by 10,457 votes, and in Georgia, he won by 12,670 votes.
In some of the other battleground states, the margins were larger. In Michigan, Biden won by more than 154,000 votes, in Nevada by more than 33,000 and in Pennsylvania by more than 81,000 votes.
The situation is similar if you look at the margin by percentage of the vote in the six states, according to a Cook Political analysis of the 2020 election. Here is a look at the states, and the margin by which Biden won the popular vote:
- Georgia: 0.2%
- Arizona: 0.3%
- Wisconsin: 0.6%
- Pennsylvania: 1.2%
- Nevada: 2.4%
- Michigan: 2.8%
Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Wisconsin is one of the most politically competitive states in the country, a fact that held true for the 2020 election.
"But in 2020 Wisconsin was not the tightest in terms of either the raw number of votes or percentage of the vote separating the top two presidential candidates," he said in an email. "By both measures Wisconsin was the third most competitive state in 2020. The margins between Biden and Trump – in terms of both raw votes and the percentage difference between them – were actually tighter in Arizona and Georgia than in Wisconsin."
Kleefisch’s campaign claimed in a fundraising email that Wisconsin’s 2020 margin was the tightest of any state in the country.
Though the campaign claimed to have sent a correction to the statement to note the margin was among the tightest, we weren’t able to find any evidence of a correction being sent out.
The margin between Biden and Trump in many 2020 battleground states was narrow, but in two states – Arizona and Georgia – it was narrower than Wisconsin.
We rate this claim False.
Rebecca Kleefisch campaign, June 8, 2022 fundraising email
NPR, "Narrow wins in these key states powered Biden to the presidency," Dec. 2, 2020
The Cook Political Report, "2020 national popular vote tracker," June 21, 2022
Email conversation with Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at UW, June 13, 2022
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