Analysis: New poll suggests Trump’s 2020 election lie is working
At the time, 6 in 10 (59%) people said they were either “very” or “somewhat” confident that elections reflect the will of the people.
That’s an amazing reversal over the course of 13 months. And it proves that, unfortunate as that may be, Donald Trump’s election lie works.
By now you know about Trump’s big lie. It is that the 2020 election was somehow fraudulent, that Trump did indeed beat Joe Biden, but that through widespread voter fraud, the result did not reflect the will of the people. That message has been a constant drumbeat for the former president since he left office.
As you might expect, the Trump base is highly skeptical that America’s election accurately reflects who people want to win. Only 1 in 4 (26%) of self-proclaimed Republicans say they believe in the US election. That compares to the 29% of white Americans without a college degree and the 25% of conservatives who say the same thing.
Among Republicans who say Biden’s win wasn’t legitimate, only 13% have confidence in the US election, compared to 60% of Republicans who say Biden won legitimately.
In the broadest sense, none of this is new. Trump’s lies about the election have long resonated with the Republican Party base.
What is What is new – and should frighten every single one of us – is that even groups that are not fervently pro-Trump have begun to doubt the American election. Among Democrats, only 68% express confidence in the election. Among political independents it is only 41%. College-educated white Americans? Just under half (47%) say they have little or no confidence in our elections. Four in ten (43%) black Americans say the same thing.
One element of Democrats’ growing fear may well be their concern that Republicans—if empowered in the states—will succeed in overturning future elections. Another reason could be concerns about the restrictive election laws that Republicans, often inspired by Trump, have been pushing at the state level for the past year.
What that means for the future of our elections is, well, not good.
Numbers like these suggest that not only are Republicans unlikely to believe the results if their side loses in 2022 (and 2024), but that a large portion of independents, and even a significant number of Democrats, might feel the same way.
This is the insidiousness of Trump’s big lie. It’s like a catchy tune – you may hate the song but you just keep humming it in the shower. Trump has created constant low-level uproar among the American electorate that something is wrong with the way we conduct elections. That he has no proof doesn’t seem to matter; by mere repetition, his false claims penetrate the public consciousness.
If you’re not worried about the November election — and the 2024 presidential election in particular — then just don’t pay attention.