Despite scores of failed legal challenges, numerous recounts and Congress’ confirmation of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, a large majority of those who voted for Donald Trump incorrectly say their candidate received the most votes cast by eligible voters in enough states to win the election.
Among Trump voters, 40% say he “definitely” won and another 36% say he “probably” won the election. Only 7% of Trump voters concede that Biden definitely won the 2020 election, while another 15% say he probably won. Biden voters nearly unanimously believe their candidate won.
Among Trump voters, there are clear parallels in the patterns of opinion about Trump’s post-election conduct and views of who won the election.
Older, less educated, and more conservative Trump supporters are among the most likely to incorrectly assert that Trump won the election.
However, there is no subgroup of Trump voters in which a majority – or even a substantial minority – says that Biden received the most votes cast by eligible voters in enough states to win the election.
For example, while 88% of very conservative Trump voters incorrectly say he definitely or probably won, including 56% who say he definitely won, so too do 77% of conservative Trump supporters and 65% of moderate and liberal Trump voters.
Major reasons for election result: Voters were excited to oppose Trump; increased early and mail voting; Trump’s mishandling of coronavirus
When asked about reasons for the results of the 2020 election, two-thirds of voters (67%) say a major reason was that “many voters were excited to vote against Trump.” Majorities also point to the increased prevalence of early and mail voting (59%) and the Trump administration’s failure to do a good job in handling the coronavirus outbreak (55%).
Fewer voters point to the other reasons included in the survey — including that Trump did too little to reach beyond his political base of support (36% cite this as a major reason) or that Biden ran a better campaign than Trump (27%).
And similar shares cite there being too little attention to Trump’s successes (33%) and too little attention to Biden’s flaws (32%) as major reasons. About as many (32%) point to “widespread illegal voting and fraud” as a major reason for the election result.
Trump voters and Biden voters offer very different reasons for the election outcome, with one notable exception. About six-in-ten voters who backed Trump (61%) and Biden (60%) cite the ability of more citizens to vote by mail, or vote early, as a major reason for the result.
Otherwise, large shares of Trump voters – and almost no Biden voters – cite widespread illegal voting and too little attention to Trump’s successes and Biden’s flaws as major reasons for the result.
By contrast, 86% of Biden voters – compared with just 18% of Trump voters — say a major reason for the outcome was that the Trump administration did not do a good enough job on the coronavirus. Biden voters also are more likely than Trump supporters to cite Biden running a better campaign and Trump failing to expand his political base as major reasons.
A sizable share of Biden voters (82%) cite as major reason that many voters were excited to vote against Trump. However, about half of Trump voters (49%) also cite this as a major reason for the outcome.
Most Americans say politicians often or sometimes do illegal things to try to win
Thinking about politics more generally, 36% of Americans say political candidates and campaigns often do things that are illegal in order to make sure they have the best possible chance of winning, while another 43% say this happens sometimes. Only 3% of Americans say that this never happens.
Republicans and Republican leaners are substantially more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say that election cheating often happens. About half of Republicans (54%) say this, compared with 20% of Democrats.
When those who say candidates and campaigns ever do things that are illegal in order to win are asked which party more frequently engages in election cheating, they are about equally likely to point to the Democratic Party (27%) and the Republican Party (26%), although a plurality (46%) say that both major parties are engage in illegal behavior with about the same frequency.
Partisans are more likely to point to the other party as cheating more frequently, but relatively large minorities of both Republicans (44%) and Democrats (45%) say that both sides engage in illegal activity about equally.
Among those who say candidates and campaigns ever do things that are illegal in order to increase their chance of winning, views of who engages in illegal election activity vary across racial and ethnic groups as well as by educational attainment.
Nearly half of Black adults (48%) say illegal election activity is more often done by Republicans. That is far larger than the shares of White adults (21%) or Hispanics (25%) who say this.
By contrast, White adults are more likely than Black adults or Hispanic adults to say that Democrats engage in election cheating more often.
College graduates are more likely than those with less formal education to say that illegal activity is more often done by Republicans than Democrats; conversely, those with a high school degree or less education are more likely to point to the Democrats as being responsible for election cheating.