President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and refusal to concede the election seriously affect how some Republicans interpret the results.
According to a new survey from Vox and Data for Progress73% of likely Republican voters say the allegations of voter fraud caused them to question Joe Biden’s victory, a statement 44% of all likely voters also agree. Likewise, 75% of likely Republican voters said they believed voter fraud took place during the election that benefited Biden, which 43% of likely voters also said overall.
Trump’s refusal to concede the election also has strong support from members of his party.
A majority of likely Republican voters – 65% – agreed with Trump’s decision not to give in despite the media triggering Biden’s election. And 69% of likely Republican voters felt Trump did not need to concede until the legal challenges he raises over voter fraud were resolved. (Many of these cases have already failed, but Trump has promised to continue additional contests.)
This poll – which was conducted of 1,160 probable voters on Nov. 16 – highlighted how Trump’s actions undermined the legitimacy of Biden’s election for many voters, an issue that may well undermine the perception that they will have his presidency once he takes office in January.
These results are consistent with those of other recent surveys, including a Reuters / Ipsos poll this week, which found that 68% of Republican voters believe the election was “rigged” and about half believe Trump “rightly won” it. While Trump may ultimately drop his legal challenges, his questioning of the election results could have damaging effects that last well beyond these lawsuits.
Voters – including Republicans – believe Trump should drop his dispute after states certify their results
As Vox’s Andrew Prokop wrote, the next state certifications of election results – when states formalize their tally – will be a key step in nominating voters to finalize the outcome of the presidential race.
For many likely Republican voters, obtaining these state certifications marks the moment when they think Trump should concede. Fifty-seven percent of likely Republican voters said they believe Trump has the right to continue running for office, but felt he should concede after state certifications, as did 49 % of voters overall.
Yet 34% of probable Republican voters and 23% of all probable voters said Trump did not need to give in, even after states certified their results.
Trump doesn’t actually have to concede the election (although his refusal to do so will likely hamper a smooth transition effort). The election is over, the voter count is almost final and the result will not be overturned. Biden won, and it’s true that Trump ultimately decides whether or not to admit him.
But this poll indicates that conceding is an important signal for its basis on the legitimacy of the democratic process. If Trump does not accept the results, neither can some of his supporters.
The poll found that people had different perceptions of what Trump’s lack of concessions meant. While the most likely voters – 59% – knew Trump’s decision did not affect election results, 29% believed that a lack of concessions could allow him to stay in the presidency. This division was also much narrower among Republican voters – 41% agreed that Trump’s lack of concessions had no impact on results, and 44% believed it could have an impact.
The party lines indicate that a large proportion of Republican voters still question Biden’s election and are quite open to Trump’s efforts to challenge it. While these legal efforts have not really succeeded, the positions taken by Trump – and the fraud allegations he presented without evidence – clearly affected voter perceptions.