A majority of Republican voters falsely believe that election fraud in the 2020 presidential race helped Joe Biden win office. Six out of 10 Republicans, a new poll has found, believe that the election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump.
There is no basis for GOP-leaning voters to hold these beliefs — other than the false assertions made by Trump and his associates, including his followers in Congress. No proof of widespread election fraud has ever been documented, and several audits across the country have shown that errant claims of fake ballots helping Biden to win or of voter machines being rigged to switch votes away from Trump, among other conspiracy theories, are false.
Still, more than half of Republican voters remain convinced — all evidence to the contrary — that fraud occurred in the 2020 race, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll published this week revealed.
Respondents were asked to answer which views best matched their opinion — whether the election last year was “legitimate and accurate” or if the election results came about due to fraud or other ballot-rigging schemes. Fifty-five percent of respondents overall said the election was legitimate, but among GOP-leaning voters, that number fell to 25 percent.
However, 56 percent of Republicans said they felt the results were impacted by election fraud, a view that only a quarter of respondents overall shared.
When asked by pollsters whether they felt the election was “stolen” from Trump, 61 percent of Republicans said that it was, with only 28 percent saying he did not have the election stolen from him.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll published this week matches findings made in late March, suggesting that GOP voters are not likely to change their views regardless of the facts. In the March Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 27 percent of Republican voters said the 2020 presidential election results were legitimate, while 55 percent wrongly said the results were due to fraud. Sixty percent of Republican respondents at that time also opined that the election was “stolen” from Trump.
While the two polls, conducted as many months apart, appear to demonstrate no movement on the issue whatsoever among Republicans, there does appear to be a slight change in opinion for some GOP-leaning voters from earlier this year. A poll in February from the R Street Institute, a conservative organization, found that 67 percent of Republican voters felt the election was invalid at that time, while only 23 percent said they accepted the results as legitimate.
Still, the fact that there has been so little movement by GOP voters on the false notion of election fraud indicates that the issue will likely play a big part in the 2022 midterms — which has the potential to help or hurt Republican candidates during those races.
The false belief that the election was “stolen” from Trump might induce his base of supporters to turn out in strong numbers in next year’s elections, resulting in the Republican Party gaining control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well.
However, those same false beliefs about the legitimacy of the last elections may also deter Trump’s base from going to the polls, which could be detrimental to the Republican Party’s attempts to regain control of Congress.
Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican pollster, said that skepticism among the Trump faithful in the electoral process — reinforced repeatedly by Trump himself — could end up hurting the GOP in the long run.
“This could cost the Republicans the majority in the House in 2022. What Donald Trump is saying is actually telling people it’s not worth it to vote,” Luntz said earlier this month.