By now, you know about Trump’s big lie. It’s that the 2020 election was somehow fraudulent, that Trump actually beat Joe Biden, but that through widespread voter fraud the result didn’t 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 most skeptical that American elections are an accurate reflection of who people want to win. Just 1 in 4 (26%) of self-identified Republicans say they have faith in US elections. That’s similar to the 29% of White Americans without college degrees and the 25% of conservatives who say the same.
Among Republicans who say they think Biden’s win was not legitimate, just 13% have confidence in US elections compared with 60% among those Republicans who say Biden did win legitimately.
In a broad sense, none of that is new. Trump’s lies about the election have long gained purchase within the base of the Republican Party.
What is new — and should scare every single one of us — is that groups who are not ardently pro-Trump have begun to doubt American elections too. Among Democrats, just 68% express confidence in elections. That number is just 41% among political independents. White Americans with college degrees? Just less than half (47%) say they have no or just a little faith in our elections. Four in ten (43%) of Black Americans say the same.
One element of rising Democratic angst could well be their worry that Republicans — if empowered in the states — will succeed in overturning future elections. Another could be concerns around the restrictive voting laws Republicans, often inspired by Trump, have pushed at the state level over the past year.
What this means for the future of our elections is, well, nothing good.
Numbers like this suggest that not only are Republicans unlikely to believe the results if their side loses in 2022 (and 2024), but a large chunk of independents and even a not-insignificant number of Democrats may feel the same way.