Fact Check: Meme With 'Pop' and 'Votes' For Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburg and Lansing Has FALSE Numbers

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Meme With 'Pop' and 'Votes' For Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburg and Lansing Has FALSE Numbers Wrong Numbers

Does a meme purporting to show the population and number of votes cast in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburg and Lansing show the correct numbers for the 2020 election? No, that's not true: the numbers showing higher vote counts than population totals were made up, the actual vote counts in the places where city-level data was available was lower than the population count (and for the place where no city-wide count was available the county-level numbers showed no discrepancy).

The numbers appeared in a meme that could be seen in a post on Facebook (archived here) for example. The text on the meme read:

Milwaukee
POP 590,157
VOTES 640,768
Detroit
POP 672,662
VOTES 850,441
Lansing
POP 118,427
VOTERS 156,295
Pittsburg
POP 301,048
VOTES 691,434

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Sun Nov 29 13:17:59 2020 UTC)

The city of Milwaukee reported 315,483 votes cast in the November 3, 2020 election here (archived here) and it has an estimated population of 590,157 according to the US Census bureau (archived here).

The city of Detroit, Michigan reported 250,138 votes cast in the November 3, 2020 election here (archived here) and it has an estimated population of 670,031 according to the US Census bureau (archived here).

The city of Lansing, Michigan is split over Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties, where 47,875, 64,327 and 145,569 votes were cast in the November 3, 2020 election (sources: Clinton, Eaton, Ingham). The city has an estimated population of 118,210 according to the US Census bureau (archived here), but the counties number 79,595, 110,268 and 292,406 inhabitants respectively according to the US Census Bureau (archived here)

The city of Pittsburg (in California) only has an estimated population of 72,588 according to the US Census bureau (archived here). It is likely the writer of the meme meant Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania (which comes with an extra "h" at the end). That city has a population of 300,286 according to the US Census Bureau (archived here), which is closer to what the meme says. The city is part of Aleghenny County, which reported 724,800 votes (i.e. even more than what the meme claims) but when we took just the numbers from the Pittsburgh wards/districts and added them up we arrived at 162,298 votes (data found here and archived here, file was linked on this page here that we were pointed to via the official Allegheny County website).

It is quite clear the numbers in the meme are wildly off the mark.

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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