Accuracy in Media

Among the alleged “bombshells” in Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, was a revelation that President Donald Trump considered President Barack Obama “overrated” and “not very smart.”

As the media began to denounce Trump for criticizing their hero — including irony-free claims that Trump remains obsessed with Obama — Trump unleashed a tweet about his predecessor’s re-election campaign.

“Obama is lucky he ran against @MittRomney, a man with very little talent or political skill, as opposed to someone who knows how to fight and win!” Trump tweeted Sept. 10.

Washington Post national political correspondent James Hohmann believed he had the perfect parry to Trump’s thrust.

He tweeted a graphic made by Vox with the headline “Trump received a smaller share of the vote than Romney did.” The tweet showed that Romney took 47.15 percent of the vote in 2012, compared to Trump’s 45.95 percent in 2016 against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

On its face, Hohmann’s use of the graphic is correct. Romney did outpace Trump in terms of percentage of the overall vote.

But if Hohmann sought to tweak Trump by asserting that Romney was more popular, he failed.

For one thing, many voters found both Trump and Clinton so off-putting that minor party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein made stronger showings in 2016 than they did in 2012. In 2012, they received 1.35 percent of the vote combined; four years later, that rose to 4.35 percent.

Secondly, against Obama, Romney got 60.93 million votes. Yet Trump received 62.98 million votes against Hillary. Hillary has had no problem claiming she was better liked than Trump because she got almost 3 million more votes than he did. Seems fair to say Trump was far more popular than Romney by getting 2 million more votes.  

In fact, Trump got more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history and more votes than any winning candidate except Obama.

Some Obama fans sought to throw that back in Trump’s face on social media, claiming he was the lucky one by not having to challenge Obama.

The University of Virginia, however, argues that one reason Trump is president today is because 8.4 million 2012 Obama voters jumped to Trump four years later. Yet just 2.5 million Romney voters went for Hillary. 

Finally, the key reason Hohmann’s tweet fails: Trump won, and is president today. 

In other words, Romney getting a bigger proportion than Trump is irrelevant. Trump got the job.   

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