With the holiday on the heels of the midterm elections, sitting out a political food fight may be unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be inaccurate. Arm yourself with the facts.

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The turkey has been carved, the potatoes mashed, the wine poured. And someone who has had one too many drinks, perhaps inevitably, utters two words.

“So — Trump?”

Maybe you, like the majority of Americans, dread discussing politics at Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe your meal, like celebrations after the 2016 election, will be shorter as a result of contention. Or maybe you relish in engaging with that crazy relative you disagree with on just about everything.

With the holiday on the heels of the midterm elections, sitting out a political food fight may be unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be inaccurate. Arm yourself with the facts.

— Election Results

Yes, there was a “blue wave” in the House, but be wary of claims exaggerating its size.

By the numbers, House Democrats have a net gain of at least 38 seats and could still add a few more to the tally. That is better than the norm; the party that does not control the White House has gained an average of 33 House seats during the midterms since 1862. But it is fewer than the 63 seats that House Republicans won in 2010. Overall, most districts shifted to the left, despite structural disadvantages Democrats faced, like partisan gerrymandering.

Similarly, boasts about Republican achievements in the Senate should be taken with a grain of salt.

All but one Senate race has been decided: a runoff election in Mississippi. Assuming Republicans win that race, the party will have gained two seats from their current razor-thin majority of 51 senators, matching their showing during the 1970 and 2002 elections. But before the 2016 elections, Republicans had the majority with 54 seats; now they have 52.

Claims of widespread voter fraud in the chaotic Florida races for governor and senator are baseless.

The Florida Department of State, which oversees the elections, has said it has seen no evidence of criminal activity, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has said it has received no complaints of fraud. Additionally, a federal judge has said he has seen no evidence of wrongdoing in vote tallying in Broward County, where President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate in the Senate race, have raised claims of fraud. The county is a populous Democratic stronghold and has a history of poorly managing elections. But that is not evidence of fraud.

Florida officials did not mysteriously “find” votes only for Democrats after Election Day. Claims about “missing” and “forged” ballots may sound like nefarious activity, but likely have simple explanations.

Protracted vote tallying, in which election officials continue to count provisional and mail-in ballots after the polls close, is routine. In Florida, the Republican candidates for governor and the Senate also gained votes during the process; though their leads narrowed, both won their races after the recount.

The latest data from the state shows that about 851,000 mail-in ballots were requested — but not submitted — by voters. Up to an additional 5,000 ballots were disqualified by election officials who found that voters’ signatures did not match state records. Those mismatches, however, could be because of signatures changing over time or because of illnesses like a stroke.

Fears of voter impersonation or of immigrants in the country illegally voting were also wildly exaggerated.

These cases do happen, but are more rare than being struck by lightning, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Trump warned of people who “put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.” But for this kind of fraud to affect an election, an army of voters would need to memorize the addresses and names of people they are impersonating and to produce fake identification or forge signatures; if caught, they would face a criminal penalty of up to a $10,000 fine or five years in prison.

— The Migrant Caravan and Immigration

Speculation that Democrats or the liberal philanthropist George Soros had funded or were behind the migrant caravan, or that it contained “unknown Middle Easterners” was not based on fact.

No evidence of either claim has emerged. The New York Times has reported that the migrant caravan is believed to have begun as a small group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and swelled amid publicity from Honduran television as migrants joined it to escape poverty and violence. After Trump initially raised the issue of “unknown Middle Easterners” in a Twitter post, he conceded that he had no proof they were part of the caravan. The Department of Homeland Security has said that the caravan includes criminals and individuals from Somalia, India, Haiti, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. None of these countries are in the Middle East.

The caravan is often described as “illegal,” which is not an entirely accurate characterization.

Some people in the caravan plan to seek asylum at ports of entry, which is legal. Others will try to cross the border illegally or turn themselves in to Border Patrol to avoid the long queue at entry points. For now, they can still apply for asylum since a federal judge has temporarily blocked a Trump administration rule that denied them protections.

Democrats indeed supported border security, but whether that is the same as what Trump has promised — a border wall — is often contradicted by Trump himself.

Democrats supported a 2006 law that authorized about 700 miles of fencing along the southwestern border. As part of his campaign, Trump promised to build a 1,000-mile concrete border wall. He sometimes calls the wall a fence, though he has also rejected suggestions that it is a fence. During the 2016 campaign, Trump characterized the 2006 legislation as inadequate, dismissing it as “such a little wall, it was such a nothing wall.”

The wall itself has yet to be built.

Prototypes for Trump’s promised border wall were revealed in October 2017. A March spending bill allocated $1.6 billion for building border barriers. The catch: Language in the legislation would bar the Trump administration from using the money to build a wall based on those prototypes. Thus far, the projects have replaced old fences with new barriers.
— Health Care

Republicans’ vows to protect patients with pre-existing conditions contradict their actions.

Multiple efforts by the Republicans to repeal the health care law, coupled with the Justice Department’s legal position on the health care law, undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans have offered legislation to preserve the protections if the Affordable Care Act were dissolved. But the bill would allow insurers to refuse to cover certain illnesses.

Democrats have exaggerated the number of people who would be affected by the elimination of these protections.

In a 2017 report, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that up to 133 million nonelderly Americans have pre-existing conditions. But claims that the repeal plans would have eliminated coverage for all of them are misleading.

As many as 88 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are insured through their employers, according to the same report, and would not have been directly affected by Republican repeal plans. In a worst-case scenario, the repeal plan that passed the House would have affected 4.7 million people with pre-existing conditions.

“Medicare for all” proposals will not rip coverage from current Medicare recipients or turn the United States into Venezuela.

Under “Medicare for all,” all Americans would receive health insurance from Medicare instead of private companies or other programs like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Proposals in the House and Senate would expand benefits for current and future Medicare beneficiaries, and cut costs.

At campaign rallies, Trump repeatedly said that Democrats “want to take away your real health care and use socialism to turn America into Venezuela” — referring to “Medicare for all” proposals. But Venezuela’s health care system was not a major factor in its economic and political crisis. Other countries like Britain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which have universal health care systems with government-owned and government-operated health care providers, are nowhere near the verge of collapse.

— The Kavanaugh Fight

One woman recanted her accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but you probably won’t recognize her name.

Comments from Trump, social media posts or incomplete headlines may have given the impression that Christine Blasey Ford walked back her testimony to Congress after accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers.

In fact, those references point to another accuser, a little-known woman named Judy Munro-Leighton, who recanted her claim of sexual assault. Munro-Leighton claimed to be the Jane Doe behind an anonymous letter sent to Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. The letter contained graphic allegations of assault. But she reversed herself to investigators on the Senate Judiciary Committee in November, admitting that she had fabricated the story, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee’s chairman, in a letter he wrote to the FBI.

— The Economy

Unemployment numbers are really low.

Trump often boasts about record lows in the unemployment rate for different groups, and with good reason. Unemployment rates among black Americans and Asian-Americans reached their lowest point in May, at 5.9 percent and 2.0 percent, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began calculating the rates, though both have since ticked up. The Hispanic unemployment rate reached its lowest recorded point in October, at 4.4 percent.

Who deserves the credit?

Both Trump and former President Barack Obama have claimed creditfor the booming economy. If the economy continues to grow until next spring, it will represent 10 years of expansion, the longest period ever.

Trump has sustained several positive economic trends that began under Obama, including the declining unemployment rate, a rise in wages, and an annually increasing gross domestic product that has risen every year for the past nine years.

Additionally, more jobs were added in the 19 months before Trump took office than in the 19 months since. But no president can take full credit, or full blame, for any economy. Note that to keep your dinner table discussion civil — and accurate.