Sen. Cory Booker said during Wednesday night’s Democratic primary debate that Hillary Clinton lost Michigan in 2016 because of Russian interference and Republican voter suppression—a claim The Washington Post called out as totally untrue.
“We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters,” Booker said.
Clinton lost Michigan to President Donald Trump by an extremely close margin of just over 10,000 votes. Booker’s claims about the reason for that, however, are not based in fact.
“Election experts say they see little or no evidence that the activities by the Russians and the Trump campaign actually swayed the election in Michigan,” fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote.
So why did Booker say it? It appears he was stretching to connect some actual facts surrounding the election as having a direct connection to Clinton’s loss.
There is evidence that Russian election interference operations heavily targeted black voters in an attempt to sway them toward not voting, and there are quotes from President Donald Trump and Roger Stone about monitoring for voter fraud in minority communities, but there’s no reason to believe those things cost Clinton the state, Kessler wrote.
The reality is, there were fewer black voters casting ballots in Michigan in 2016—but that was more likely because former President Barack Obama wasn’t on the ballot, and black voters were far less excited about Clinton.
“African American turnout in Michigan was down from 2012 to 2016, partially because it had previously risen for Barack Obama,” an expert told The Post.
“…[Booker is] wrong to claim the Russians and the GOP were responsible for Clinton’s loss in Michigan,” Kessler concluded, giving the senator four Pinocchios, which is defined on the rating scale as a “whopper.”