Outgoing President Donald Trump's allies were overjoyed on Tuesday when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a suit on behalf of the state against the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
The suit doesn't argue that widespread voter fraud tipped the election to President-elect Joe Biden—as Trump falsely insists—but that pandemic-induced changes to the election process in these states rendered election fraud undetectable.
Because the suit is between states of multiple jurisdictions, it's been filed directly with the Supreme Court, though expert after expert says the suit is so ridiculous that it likely won't be granted standing, even with a 6-3 conservative bench.
One particularly spurious claim is that Biden's chances of winning even one of these states was only one in quadrillion.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany eagerly defended this bizarre conclusion on far-right Fox News host Sean Hannity's show.
"The chances of Biden coming from as far behind as he was at 3 AM on election night, the chances of that are one in one quadrillion ... prevailing in all four of the states where he was so far behind, the chances of that are one in a quadrillion to the fourth power. This is all outlined right here in this lawsuit, everything we've discussed, in a sourced document by attorneys before the United States Supreme Court."
The calculation in the suit cites Charles J. Cicchetti of Pacifics Economic Group, Inc, but mathematicians are easily proving why the calculation is wrong.
First of all, it incorrectly presumes that Trump's early lead was an establishing trend.
Trump was ahead of Biden by the end of Election Night, as was widely predicted, because in-person votes—which were predominately Republican—were counted before mail-in ballots in large cities, which swung heavily for Democrats. Trump's early lead was a result of which votes were counted first, not an indication of Trump's popularity.
Chicchetti's calculation also erroneously presumes the votes counted after election night were as random as a coin toss and had an equal chance of going to Trump or Biden. In reality, mail ballots—which were counted after election night—were already statistically favored for Biden, thanks to a weeks-long Republican campaign to sow mistrust of mail-in ballots among its voters. Meanwhile, Democrats encouraged their voters to vote by mail if possible, in light of the pandemic.
Politifact, which deemed the assertion "Pants on Fire!" quoted political science professor Kenneth Mayer saying:
"The analysis assumes that votes are all independently and randomly distributed. This is going to be used in undergraduate statistics classes as a canonical example of how not to do statistics."
CNN's Jake Tapper—a prominent critic of the Trump administration—called out McEnany's lies on Twitter.
He wasn't the only one to push back against the absurd claim.
People largely sided with Tapper.
The defendant states in the lawsuit have until 3 pm Thursday to file their counterarguments with the Court, which may still decide to dismiss the case.