President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud and unwillingness to concede the election are seriously affecting how some Republicans are interpreting the results.
According to a new survey from Vox and Data for Progress, 73 percent of likely Republican voters say that the allegations of voter fraud have made them question Joe Biden’s victory, a statement that 44 percent of all likely voters agreed with as well. Similarly, 75 percent of likely Republican voters said they believed voter fraud took place during the election that benefitted Biden, something that 43 percent of likely voters overall also stated.
Trump’s refusal to concede the election has significant support from members of his party, too.
A majority of likely Republican voters — 65 percent — agreed with Trump’s decision not to concede despite the fact that media outlets have called the election for Biden. And 69 percent of likely Republican voters felt that Trump doesn’t need to concede until the legal challenges he is levying about voter fraud have been resolved. (Many such cases have already failed, but Trump has vowed to continue additional contests.)
This poll — which was fielded with 1,160 likely voters on November 16 — highlighted how much Trump’s actions have undercut the legitimacy of Biden’s election for many voters, a problem that could well undermine how they perceive his presidency once he takes office in January.
These findings are consistent with those of other recent surveys, including a Reuters/Ipsos poll this week that found that 68 percent of Republican voters think that the election was “rigged” and about half believe that Trump “rightfully won” it. Although Trump may ultimately give up his legal challenges, his questioning of the election results could have damaging effects that last long beyond those lawsuits.
Voters — including Republicans — think Trump should give up his dispute once states certify their results
As Vox’s Andrew Prokop has written, upcoming state certifications of election results — when states make their counts official — will be a key step in electors being appointed to finalize the outcome of the presidential race.
For many likely Republican voters, the completion of these state certifications mark the time when they think that Trump should concede. Fifty-seven percent of likely Republican voters said they believed Trump had a right to continue contesting the election, but felt he should concede after the state certifications, as did 49 percent of voters overall.
Still, 34 percent of likely Republican voters and 23 percent of all likely voters said that Trump didn’t need to concede even after states certify their results.
Trump in fact doesn’t have to concede the election (though his refusal to do so will likely hamper a smooth transition effort). The election is over, voter tallies are near final, and the result won’t be overturned. Biden has won, and that is true whether Trump ultimately decides to acknowledge it or not.
But this polling indicates that conceding is an important signal to one’s base about the legitimacy of the democratic process. If Trump won’t accept the results, some of his followers may not either.
The poll found that people had different perceptions about what Trump’s lack of concession means. While most likely voters — 59 percent — were aware that Trump’s decision did not affect the election’s results, 29 percent believed that a lack of concession could enable him to remain in the presidency. That split was also much closer among Republican voters — 41 percent agreed that Trump’s lack of concession has no impact on the results, and 44 percent believed that it could have an impact.
The divisions along party lines indicate that a solid proportion of Republican voters are still questioning Biden’s election, and are quite open to Trump’s efforts to challenge it. While these legal efforts haven’t really gone anywhere, the positions that Trump has taken — and the allegations of fraud that he’s presented without evidence — have clearly affected voters’ perceptions.