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This map shows many red counties in Pennsylvania, but it doesn’t account for smaller blue counties with larger populations. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated Dr. Mehmet Oz in the state’s race for an open U.S. Senate seat.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, flipping the seat for Democrats.
But a map showing where each candidate prevailed in the state is causing some social media users to reconsider the election results.
"Am I color blind?? Please explain how Rainman won??" one Instagram post said, apparently comparing a movie character with autism to Fetterman, who suffered a stroke earlier this year. "The said it would take days to count!! #rigged #fixed #cheated"
The map shows about 13 counties that are shades of blue, meaning Fetterman won or was leading there at the time the screenshot of the map was taken. More than 50 other counties are shades of red, meaning Oz won or was leading in those counties at that moment.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
But colors don’t tell the whole story here. Some counties may look big and red on the map, but they’re more rural with fewer voters. A blue county on the map may look small — like Philadelphia County, for example — but be home to a large population of voters.
The New York Times has an interactive map on its website that’s similar to the one in the Instagram post, but users can see vote breakdowns by county. Fetterman netted more than 382,000 votes in Philadelphia County compared with Oz’s approximate 76,000, according to unofficial results as of Nov.10. In Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is the county seat, Oz fared better, with nearly 197,000 votes to Fetterman’s nearly 353,000.
Many of the red-colored counties on the map reflected significantly smaller vote counts. In McKean County, for example, Oz took about 10,000 votes to Fetterman’s roughly 4,000. In Forest County, Oz won about 1,400 votes to Fetterman’s approximately 700.
In other counties, Oz received more than 100,000 votes, or tallies that reached the tens of thousands. But they were not enough to best Fetterman, who won the election with about 51% of the overall total, or about 2.68 million votes, according to unofficial results.
In 2020, Washington Post columnist Philip Bump tackled the problem of election result maps and shared several attempts to illustrate the 2020 presidential election results "by population, not acreage."
"This is a quadrennial issue in presidential politics," Bump wrote. "Every four years, we get new election results, and every four years, people start passing around state- or county-level results maps that show a massive sea of red — reflecting Republican strength in expansive, sparsely populated rural areas. New York City occupies a few pixels; Sweetwater County, Wyo., with its 44,000 people, occupies hundreds of times as much real estate. So, every four years, we get a flood of maps reframing the results to emphasize the number of voters supporting each candidate, not the number of acres."
The same appears to be true in the midterms, but the land-based maps are certainly not evidence that the election was rigged. We rate this post Pants on Fire!
Instagram post, Nov. 9, 2022
The New York Times, U.S. Senate Election Results, visited Nov. 9, 2022
The Washington Post, Let’s get ahead of it: A map of the early 2020 results by population, not acreage, Nov. 5, 2020
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