Fact check: Trump and Sanders claims examined

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-13 08:37:36-04

Candidates hoping to secure their party nominations for president are making big claims to get noticed.

This week, PolitiFact looks at two recent statements made during the debates by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, to see if their claims measure up. 

Donald Trump

A claim often repeated by Donald Trump targets Sen. Marco Rubio’s voting record in the senate.

"This guy (Rubio) has the number one absentee record in the United States (Senate), he doesn't show up to vote," Trump claimed at the March 3 debate in Detroit.

PolitiFact did the research, and found Rubio was truant more than any other Republican candidate running for the GOP nomination; missing 125 votes between March 5, 2015 and March 3, 2016. That’s a 41% absentee rate, according to GovTrack, which is worse than any other sitting senator.

Compare Rubio's 41% absentee rate to Ted Cruz's 36%, and Bernie Sanders' 19%.

Rubio missed 125 senate votes, or 41% of the votes

However, if you look at missed votes over the course of their senate careers, the numbers paint a different story.

Cruz and Rubio both have a 14.8% absentee rate for senate votes over the span of their careers.

Compare that to Hillary Clinton, who missed 9.5% of senate votes and Bernie Sanders, who missed 4.6%.

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly true

Trump says Rubio has the number one absentee record in the U.S. Senate.

This last year's records show truth in Trump's statement, however career truancy records have Rubio tied with Cruz. So PolitiFact rates this claim as mostly true.

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders has often pointed to polls showing him doing better against Republican Donald Trump than his rival, Hillary Clinton. During the March 6 debate in Michigan, Sanders repeated this point.

"I would love to run against Donald Trump, and I’ll tell you why," Sanders said. "For a start…not all, but almost every poll has shown that Sanders vs. Trump does a lot better than Clinton vs. Trump…and, that’s true nationally."

PolitiFact truth-checked this claim, taking a closer look at the national polling data and talking with polling experts. They found seven national surveys in 2016 that looked at how Sanders and Clinton would do if they were to run against Trump in the general election.

Six of the seven polls showed Sanders would do better than Clinton.

But, experts say, there are some factors to consider.

  • Early polls include “likely voters”, who may never cast a ballot
  • National polls are not always good predictors this early in the campaign
  • Voters may waiver once they learn more about Sanders socialist leanings
Six of the seven polls showed Sanders would do better than Clinton

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly true

Sanders says almost every poll shows that he does a lot better against Trump than Clinton would.

That statement's true, but needs additional context as experts say results from polls taken before the start of the general election have not historically been accurate predicators of the November results.

Thus, PolitiFact rates this claim as mostly true.