Most confident that election was fair
A third of the country is “happy” that Donald Trump lost the election – which is slightly more than the one-quarter who feels the same about Joe Biden winning.
The Monmouth University Poll also finds a majority of Americans are confident that the election was conducted fairly, although most Trump voters think Biden’s victory is due to voter fraud. In other poll findings, a majority of the public disapproves of how the incumbent is handling the presidential transition, with one-third saying the delay poses a major threat to national security.
The president’s refusal to concede may also contribute to the fact that more than 4 in 10 Americans feel we need more information about the vote count before we can be certain of the election’s outcome.
Overall, just over half of the American public is either happy (34%) or satisfied (18%) about Trump’s defeat, while nearly 4 in 10 are dissatisfied (28%) or angry (10%). Likewise, just over half are either happy (25%) or satisfied (26%) about Biden’s victory, while just over 4 in 10 are dissatisfied (29%) or angry (15%).
Among Biden voters, 57% say they are happy that their choice won, but even more (73%) are happy that Trump lost.
“This election was always about the incumbent first and foremost. The thought of his loss provoking a stronger positive reaction than the idea of a Biden victory is just one more example of that. Still, the poll shows that the country continues to suffer from deep partisan divisions in the election’s aftermath,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Among Trump voters, 26% are angry that the incumbent lost, but more (36%) are angry at the idea that Biden won. While 60% of Americans believe Biden won the election fair and square, 32% say he only won it due to voter fraud. Three-quarters (77%) of Trump backers say Biden’s win was due to fraud. Murray added, “The anger among Trump’s base is tied to a belief that the election was stolen.”
A majority (54%) of Americans believe we have enough information on the vote count to know who won the presidential election, but a sizable minority (44%) feel we, in fact, do not. Fully 88% of Trump voters believe we need to wait for more information on the count before we know for sure. They are joined by 38% of voters who backed a third party candidate or refused to reveal their vote choice and 46% of nonvoters. Just 4% of Biden supporters say more information is needed before we can be certain of the election’s outcome.
Most Americans are confident that the 2020 election was conducted fairly and accurately, including 44% who are very confident and 16% who are somewhat confident. The overall number of people who are confident about the election is similar to the 6 in 10 voters who felt this way before the election, but the number who are very confident now has nearly doubled from 24% in late September. There has also been a significant partisan shift in election confidence. Before the election, 55% of Republican voters expressed confidence in the process. That has dropped to just 22% now. In fact, a majority (61%) of Republicans are not at all confident in the election’s fairness and accuracy now. Only 13% expressed that sentiment in late September. Confidence in the election’s fairness went up among both independents (from 56% to 69%) and Democrats (from 68% to 90%) pre-election to post-election.
“It’s not unusual for backers on the losing side to take a while to accept the results. It is quite another thing for the defeated candidate to prolong that process by spreading groundless conspiracy theories. This is dangerous territory for the Republic’s stability,” said Murray.
Most Americans (61%) disapprove of how Trump is handling the presidential transition process. Just 31% approve. One in four (25%) Republicans join 67% of independents and 92% of Democrats in voicing disapproval of the incumbent’s behavior. One-third (35%) of the public feels the Trump administration’s delay of the transition process poses a major threat to national security. Another 26% say it poses a minor threat while 36% say the administration’s delay poses no threat to national security.
The Monmouth University Poll also finds Biden’s personal rating is slightly higher than Trump’s – which has been a fairly consistent trend over the past year. The Democrat’s rating stands at 44% favorable and 43% unfavorable, while the Republican’s rating is 40% favorable and 48% unfavorable.
Among those who report casting a ballot in this month’s election, 45% say they voted for Biden, 41% backed Trump, 6% say they voted for another candidate, and 9% refused to divulge their choice. About one-third (33%) report voting on Election Day, 31% voted early in person, and 36% returned a mail ballot. These results are very close to published results of the two-party vote margin and modes of voting.
“The percentage of people we polled who say they voted is higher than the actual turnout, which is a typical response historically. However, the fact that the margin between Biden and Trump as well as the voting modes used are very close to the national tally suggest the overall findings of the poll are within a standard margin of error on key opinion measures,” said Murray. [Note: a weighting adjustment was made in the poll to increase the proportion of nonvoters in the sample, but no modifications were made based on presidential vote choice. The two-party margin reported here is based on Monmouth’s standard demographic weights.]
The poll also finds more Americans report that most of their family and friends voted for Biden (48%) rather than Trump (41%). However, when non-voters – a group that skews heavily toward people of color – are removed from the analysis, that gap narrows to 44% for Biden and 44% for Trump.
“It’s interesting that the social circle vote margin is closer than for the individual voter question. We will be able to take a closer look at this after the final count is in and the state voter rolls are updated. Whether this is evidence of a shy Trump vote or a shy Biden vote, or more likely a bit of both, remains to be seen,” said Murray.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from November 12 to 16, 2020 with 810 adults in the United States. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
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