WASHINGTON, D.C. (NewsNation) — Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt said during the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump knew he would likely see an early lead due to a political phenomenon known as the “red mirage” but continued to push the narrative that the election was stolen.
In his testimony to the Select Jan. 6 Committee on Monday, Stirewalt — now the political editor for NewsNation — explained the red mirage is an expectation that Republican voters are more likely to vote in person, whereas Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, which can result in GOP candidates seeing an early lead while votes are counted that can swing later in the night.
“In every election, certainly a national election, you expect to see the Republican with a lead, but it’s not really a lead,” Stirewalt said.
Because of the pandemic, Stirewalt and his team expected a higher percentage of mail-in ballots than in previous elections. It’s a fact, he said, Trump knew about and attempted to take advantage of.
“We had gone to pains — and I’m proud of the pains we went to — to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly (the red mirage),” Stirewalt said.
Trump advisors confirmed in pre-recorded testimony Monday that they had conversations with the former president warning him that early vote counts would likely be in his favor but that more votes would be counted in the days that followed.
That didn’t stop Trump from spreading unfounded rumors of election fraud in numerous swing states, including Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Stirewalt and his team correctly called the Arizona race in favor of President Joe Biden shortly before midnight on Election Day 2020 and members of Trump’s inner circle said Monday that the president became upset at the network.
During the hearings, Stirewalt explained what went into the decision to call the Arizona race.
“We had a different set of data than our competitors did. We had more research and we had a better system and we had a great team,” Stirewalt said during his testimony.
Meanwhile, in pre-recorded testimony, former Trump advisors described the tense election night atmosphere marked by shock and anger when the race was called.
When asked directly whether the White House was angry at Fox News for calling the race or simply disappointed at losing the state, former Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller said it was “all the above.”
Despite the fact the call was seen as premature by some in the polling industry, Stirewalt stood by his team’s prediction models, which were ultimately proven to be correct. Two months later, Stirewalt was fired from Fox News, though the network did not give a public reason for his dismissal.
Shortly after he was fired, Stirewalt wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in which he said he became the target of “murderous rage” following his team’s election night decision.