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Crowd size at Trump and Biden events reflects approach, not voter preference

October 28, 2020 GMT

THE CLAIM: Images from a large crowd gathered at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump, and from a sparsely attended event for Democratic nominee Joe Biden reflect voters’ true preferences.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. The candidates have taken different approaches to campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Biden campaign has instituted social distancing measures and limited the number of people at events to prevent further spread of the virus, the Trump campaign has allowed a large number of people to access rallies. Additionally, Biden maintains a national lead over Trump, according to polls, with a narrow margin of difference in Iowa and Arizona where the images were taken.

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THE FACTS: On Oct. 14, Trump led a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. He posted a photo to Twitter that shows stands full of supporters, without social distancing. Trump opponents have criticized his campaign for not instituting social distancing measures at events, and for allowing large crowds.

Between Oct. 8 and 9, Biden’s campaign organized various events in Arizona. The Biden campaign bus visited Yuma, though neither Biden nor his running mate Kamala Harris attended the event.

In an image shared on Twitter by Arizona House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, only a handful of people are seen holding Biden-Harris campaign banners in front of the bus in a parking lot.

In her tweet, Fernandez, who is seeking reelection, applauded the bus’s visit to the Yuma region.

Posts on Facebook are showing photos of the two events side by side, and are claiming that the crowd at Trump’s rally indicates he has greater support. “And your wanting me to believe in the polls? Yeah RIGHT,” reads one such post. Another says, “It’s hard to trust pollsters when your own eyes see this each day!”

The posts are missing the context that the Biden campaign is not holding large events. Biden’s campaign has repeatedly stated on various occasions that it limits the number of people who attend events to avoid further spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

Most national polls released in recent weeks show Biden leading Trump.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536