Following the events of 6 January, in which supporters of Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol Building in a vain attempt to disrupt the counting of the votes of the Electoral College, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies find it worth noting the results of our last poll on 16 December, which provided clear evidence of widespread skepticism regarding the integrity of the 2020 Election.
Overall, a clear majority (57%) of Americans agreed that they have trust in the integrity of the electoral process in the United States. Yet around a quarter (23%) disagreed, while around a fifth (19%) neither agreed nor disagreed. Trust in the electoral process across the entire public rose somewhat compared to our polling throughout September and October, when about 50% affirmed their trust.
However, in the aftermath of the 2020 Election, a sharp partisan dimension has emerged in relation to trust in the integrity of the electoral process. In our final poll on this issue prior to the election, a similar proportion of Joe Biden and Donald Trump voters (53% and 56% respectively) expressed trust in the integrity of the election. By contrast, in our poll on 16 December, just 39% of those who voted to re-elect the President agreed that they trusted in the integrity of the country’s electoral process, compared to over three quarters (77%) of Joe Biden’s voters. Following the Election, the plurality (45%) of those who voted for Donald Trump distrust in the integrity of the electoral process, compared to only 4% of Joe Biden voters.
Moreover, 40% of all respondents agreed with a statement suggesting that the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged. A slight plurality (45%) disagreed that the election was rigged. The overwhelming majority (79%) of those who supported Joe Biden disagreed that the Election was rigged, while 70% of Donald Trump voters agreed. Among those who did not vote, 32% agreed that the election was rigged whereas 31% disagreed.
Prior to the election, our polling monitored attitudes towards electoral fraud. In particular, our research focused on the public’s perception about whether postal voting provided too much of an opportunity for electoral fraud, given the high levels of postal voting expected to take place. In polls conducted throughout September, clear pluralities (45% to 46%) of the American public agreed that mail in voting provides too much opportunity for electoral fraud, while just 30% disagreed. The overwhelming majority (72% to 74%) of Donald Trump voters consistently agreed that mail in voting felt mail-in voting provided an opportunity for fraud, reflecting a claim regularly made by the President himself.
Our research re-visited the topic of electoral fraud following the election. In the aftermath of the vote, President Trump and his team have repeatedly alleged that electoral fraud was widespread. In December, 29% of Americans disagreed with a statement suggesting that the election was (largely) free of electoral fraud. Whereas a slight majority (53%) of the population agreed that the election was largely free of electoral fraud, a majority (53%) of Donald Trump voters disagreed.
A clear majority (55%) of Donald Trump voters did not think that he should concede the election to Joe Biden. Only 29% of his voters believed Donald Trump should concede. Interestingly, support for Donald Trump’s continued unwillingness to concede was maintained in mid-December, despite Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell congratulating Joe Biden on his election win the day before this poll.
The President’s refusal to concede has confirmed the pre-election expectations of the American public. During our polling in mid-October, a majority (50%) disagreed that the President would concede if it appeared he had lost narrowly, while only around a fifth (21%) agreed that he would concede. Only 26% of the President’s likely supporters considered that he would concede, compared to 40% who thought he would not.
In the week prior to the election, those who were voting for both candidates expressed a desire for their candidate to wait to see how the situation developed, even if it appeared their candidate had lost the election on the night of the election and the day that followed.
On 11 December, the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by the State of Texas that had asked the court to discard the election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost in November. A slight majority (51%) of the American public said they would trust the Supreme Court to come to a fair decision regarding the outcome of the election, while only around a fifth (22%) would not trust the Supreme Court in this instance. Over a quarter (27%) did not know. Overall trust in the Supreme Court arbitrating on a contested election increased compared to our pre-election polling, when between 42% to 44% said they would trust the Supreme Court to come to a fair decision, and around a third (30-35%) said they would not trust the Court.
Nevertheless, this change in the overall picture masks a deeper, far more dramatic shift. In mid-December, Joe Biden voters (61%) were much more likely than Donald Trump voters (44%) to express trust in the Supreme Court. This breakdown marks a significant change since before the election, when less than a third (29%) of Joe Biden voters said they trusted the Supreme Court, whereas over two thirds of Donald Trump supporters (67%) expressed faith in the Court. Ultimately, the Supreme Court’s decision to turn away bids to overturn the results increased the trust Joe Biden voters have in the institution yet decreased the trust of Donald Trump supporters. A quarter (25%) of those who said they voted for Donald Trump say they do not trust the Supreme Court.
While overall trust in the electoral process rose slightly in the aftermath of the Election, confidence in the integrity of the country’s democratic system has become more partisan than prior to the election. Furthermore, a huge minority of Americans consider that the election was rigged, and that electoral fraud occurred. In mid-December, supporters of Donald Trump voters mostly did not believe he should concede the election.