70 Percent of Republicans Believe Election Unfair

The President's message is getting through.

The longstanding effort by President Trump to make supporters question unfavorable election results have paid off—and they’ve been bolstered by fecklessness of Republican leaders in Congress.

YahooNews/The Week (“Republican official asks what the ‘downside’ is of ‘humoring’ Trump after election loss“):

At least one senior Republican official is evidently looking to continue “humoring” President Trump as he baselessly claims he’s being cheated out of a 2020 election victory.

Days after Democratic nominee Joe Biden was projected by all major media outlets as the winner of the presidential election, Trump has yet to concede the race, and his campaign is pursuing legal efforts to challenge the results in numerous battleground states. Though experts say there’s essentially no chance of these legal options affecting the outcome of the election, one Republican official told The Washington Post they’re fine with entertaining Trump while being confident his efforts won’t succeed.

“What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?” a senior Republican official told the Post. “No one seriously thinks the results will change. He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to this view, given the reality of a lunatic in the White House and his enormous popularity with the party faithful. But the “harm” is becoming obvious.

YahooNews/Politico (“Poll: 70 percent of Republicans don’t think the election was free and fair“):

After the presidential race was called for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Republicans’ trust in the election system plummeted, while Democrats’ trust soared, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Multiple new organizations announced Biden as the election winner on Saturday after four days of counting in several swing states. Following the news, 70 percent of Republicans now say they don’t believe the 2020 election was free and fair, a stark rise from the 35 percent of GOP voters who held similar beliefs before the election. Meanwhile, trust in the election system grew for Democrats, many who took to the streets to celebrate Biden’s victory on Saturday. Ninety percent of Democrats now say the election was free and fair, up from 52 percent before Nov. 3 who thought it would be.

Among Republicans who believed that the election wasn’t free and fair, 78 percent believed that mail-in voting led to widespread voter fraud and 72 percent believed that ballots were tampered with — both claims that have made a constant appearance on the president’s Twitter thread. Like President Donald Trump, a majority of the people that thought the election was unfair, 84 percent, said it benefited Biden.

The lack of trust in the election system has led to Republicans being more skeptical about the election results. Although only 18 percent of Republicans had said the results would be unreliable prior to Election Day, now 64 percent feel the same way following Biden’s victory. By contrast, 86 percent of Democrats say they trust the results.

Now, it’s not surprising that Democrats are more favorably disposed to believe in the outcome after a win. And Democrats have certainly complained about the fairness of elections they’ve lost; Stacey Abrams has made a career out of it.

But the fact of the matter is that, despite good reasons for bitterness, Al Gore gave a gracious concession speech after the debacle of 2000. Hillary Clinton was more equivocal in 2016—and has done quite a bit to cast the outcome as unfair since–but, under pressure from a Democratic President, she quickly conceded the race to Trump despite a 3 million vote lead in the popular vote count.

That Trump hasn’t faced reality yet is, well, characteristic. But it’s time for Republican leaders to lead before the system fractures irreparably.

As noted this morning, the fears that many of us had of Trump needing to be somehow forced out of office now look overblown. But we can’t have a majority of the losing candidate’s supporters think the election was somehow stolen.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Society, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. EddieInCA says:

    @Dr. Joyner

    And Democrats have certainly complained about the fairness of elections they’ve lost; Stacey Abrams has made a career out of it.

    Rightly so.

    *Kemp oversaw an aggressive effort to purge voters before the election, with nearly 700,000, or 10 percent, removed from the rolls in the year before the election. “For an estimated 107,000 of those people, their removal from the voter rolls was triggered not because they moved or died or went to prison, but rather because they had decided not to vote in prior elections,” according to a report by American Public Media.

    *Kemp placed 53,000 voter registrations in electoral limbo in October, with the Associated Press estimating that 70 percent were black voters. The move was the result of an “exact match” policy in which even a single digit or a misplaced hyphen could derail the registration. No one knows how many of those voters turned up to vote.

    *More than 200 polling places across the state were closed, primarily in poor and minority neighborhoods. Voters reported long lines, malfunctioning voting machines and other problems that delayed or thwarted voting in those areas. “Research shows that for every tenth of a mile that a polling station is removed from the black community (up to 4 miles), that black voter turnout declines by .5%,” said Carol Anderson, a professor of African American studies at Emory University who has written extensively on voter suppression. “Long lines cause people, whose paychecks are getting nibbled away waiting in the queue, to leave and not vote.” (The Atlanta Journal Constitution found that precinct closures and longer distances likely prevented an estimated 54,000 to 85,000 voters from casting ballots on Election Day.)

    *A still-unexplained 4.2 percent undervote in the lieutenant governor’s race, especially prevalent in minority precincts, could indicate serious problems with paperless, touch-screen voting machines in those areas. (The undervote rate in the race was just 1 percent on mail-in or absentee paper ballots.) A federal judge in August ordered the state to have new voting machines in place by the 2020 primary election in March or have plans to provide voters with paper ballots, but advocacy groups have not been able to determine whether the machines properly recorded the governor’s race.


  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The both-siderism here is confounding.

  3. inhumans99 says:

    The more interesting thing to come out of this poll is that when party identity is not broken out to look at on its own the numbers show that more people believe that Biden was fairly elected. I think Politico highlighted that result to show that it is not as scary as it looks that 70% of Republicans refuse to accept the reality that is in front of them.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Well, they would, wouldn’t they? They’re just following their Dear Leader. It can’t be possibly because there were fewer voters on the other side. Clearly someone must have CHEATED!

  5. Gustopher says:

    70 Percent of Republicans Believe Election Unfair

    This election, or the concept of standing for election?

    The President’s message is getting through.

    There are over 50 Republican Senators who are on board with this message. Along with the cabinet and the House and governors… this isn’t “The President’s message”, and it is the gravest threat to our democracy since the end of the Reconstruction.

    I think it’s worse (for our democracy) than McCarthyism, because that was abusing the power of the majority, and relied upon popular support. And it is worse than the 2016 electoral inversion, and the 2000 electoral inversion.

    I do think that three electoral inversions out of the past 6 elections would also be a disaster for our democracy, possibly worse than this, but that hasn’t happened — it’s just what Republicans are pushing for.

  6. Scott F. says:

    That Trump hasn’t faced reality yet is, well, characteristic. But it’s time for Republican leaders to lead before the system fractures irreparably.

    Yeah, that’s not gonna happen and when the system does fracture irreparably, Republican leaders will blame the Democrats. And 70% of Republican voters will believe them.

  7. drj says:

    More about the Abrams-Kemp race:

    As Georgia’s secretary of state, Kemp was in charge of elections and voter registration during the election. Between 2012 and 2018, Kemp’s office cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations, with nearly 700,000 cancellations in 2017 alone. On a single night in July 2017, half a million voters had their registrations cancelled. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, election-law experts said that this “may represent the largest mass disenfranchisement in US history.” Kemp oversaw the removals as Secretary of State, and did so eight months after he declared that he was going to run for governor.[…]

    Kemp’s office was found to have violated the law before and immediately after the 2018 midterm elections. In a ruling against Kemp, District Judge Amy Totenberg found that Kemp’s office had violated the Help America Vote Act and said an attempt by Kemp’s office to expedite the certification of results “appears to suggest the Secretary’s foregoing of its responsibility to confirm the accuracy of the results prior to final certification, including the assessment of whether serious provisional balloting count issues have been consistently and properly handled.”

    More at the link, obviously.

    The bothsiderism is truly astounding.

    @James Joyner: I know you are not arguing in bad faith, but, for the love of God, do some due diligence before you buy into Republican talking points.

  8. Jen says:

    Taking a step back from the bothsiderism, this issue of elections and voting must be addressed.

    The flagrant efforts of voter suppression are as un-American as one can get, and Republicans think that they are OWED…something, because (ramble, ramble) vote fraud. Ask them for evidence and they either start blabbing about Kennedy and Chicago (my response to that is, I’m over 50 and that happened before I was born. Do you have anything recent?), or it’s just waving arms and saying that it has to be the case because their cousin’s brother’s dentist saw someone voting without ID…etc.

    I don’t know what it’s going to take to get through the thick skulls of Republicans, but voter fraud is very rare, but voter suppression is alive and doing quite well.

  9. mattbernius says:

    Not to pile on, but here is noted liberal* @DavidFrum on Stacey Abrams:

    Stacey Abrams had a fair claim that she was cheated. Her opponent was a secretary of state responsible for conduct of elections – and oversaw the purge from the rolls of tens of thousands of predominantly black voters. GOPers mocked her. But she had a case. Trump has noises.— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 10, 2020

  10. Gustopher says:

    70%+1 of Republican voters believe that Stacy Abrams lost an entirely free and fair election…

  11. Gustopher says:

    Hillary Clinton was more equivocal in 2016—and has done quite a bit to cast the outcome as unfair since–but, under pressure from a Democratic President, she quickly conceded the race to Trump despite a 3 million vote lead in the popular vote count.

    Gee, I wonder what could be unfair in the outcome where the winner has fewer votes than the loser?

    (Just to try to start a different pile on…)

  12. SenyorDave says:

    Here’s a solution. The Trump states should secede and declare themselves the Republic of Gilead* . This would be a win-win for both sides.

    * If you’ve never seen Handmaid’s Tale, do a wikipedia search on Gilead.

  13. Barry says:

    @EddieInCA: I’m going to rag on James:

    James, match Kemp’s behavior from a Democratic official.

    Match it.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Now, it’s not surprising that Democrats are more favorably disposed to believe in the outcome after a win. And Democrats have certainly complained about the fairness of elections they’ve lost; Stacey Abrams has made a career out of it.

    And she had every fucking reason too. The bullshit Kemp pulled leading up to that election is well documented. And the “career” she made out of it made this election a hell of a lot more fair for other’s. And you gawd damned well know it James.

  15. Kurtz says:


    Not to pile on, but here is noted liberal* @DavidFrum on Stacey Abrams

    To be fair, there exists a sizable chunk of Republicans who think Frum is a liberal.

  16. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: not only are her complaints valid, but it’s simply false that she has made a career of it. She hasn’t been sitting around complaining since 2016. Instead, after her initial protests, she got to work registering 800,000 Georgians to vote.

  17. Mikey says:


    Ask them for evidence and they either start blabbing about Kennedy and Chicago (my response to that is, I’m over 50 and that happened before I was born. Do you have anything recent?), or it’s just waving arms and saying that it has to be the case because their cousin’s brother’s dentist saw someone voting without ID…etc.

    There’s a postal worker in Erie, PA named Richard Hopkins who claimed to have witnessed voter fraud, including backdating of mailed ballots. He signed an affadavit.

    Understandably, the USPS Inspector General launched an immediate investigation and interviewed Hopkins, whereupon he immediately recanted his testimony and didn’t explain why he signed a false affadavit.

    It’s noteworthy that he went through right-wing hoax outfit Project Veritas, which has been caught in numerous lies.

  18. Kathy says:


    Democrats “cheat” like in this Trump joke of the day:

    One day Trump Sr. was berating young Pessimus for his bad grades in school, pointing out that his older brother got good grades (solid C average!)

    “But, dad,” said Donnie, “Dear Brother cheats!” He clutched his pearls and looked for a fainting couch.

    “Cut that out, dumbass!” Papa Trump said lovingly. “Can you prove it?”

    “Yes! I have the best proofs! Lots of people say that.”


    “When I’m out with my friends,” Minimus said, “you know, partying and grabbing pussy and assaulting women and all that good stuff, when we’re out doing that, Dear Brother studies!” And with that, he found his fainting couch.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    70 Percent of Republicans Believe Election Unfair

    Yeah and the other 30% were lying…

  20. reid says:

    Republican elites may think this is all just a harmless game, but the all-too-large base most certainly doesn’t. They are benefiting from it and they know it, damn the consequences.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Monala: I thought that was the point–if she hadn’t changed her career from small-time politician to aggrieved voting rights advocate, there wouldn’t be 800,000 probably mostly Democrat-leaning voters clogging up the rosters.

    How are they gonna purge enough voters to offset that? She created a lot of unnecessary work for the SoS office.

  22. Jen says:

    @Mikey: Yes, and there’s a woman in Texas who got caught trying to register a number of medically fragile people in her care (she’s a social worker).

    But–that’s exactly the point. She got CAUGHT and is being prosecuted. It’s really, really freakin’ hard to commit voter fraud *at scale.* A case here and there, yes. But everyone else gets caught.

    It’s nonsensical to think that there’s a conspiracy to change hundreds of thousands of votes without generating any evidence of an actual PLOT to do so. It. Doesn’t. Happen.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    I agree the bothsiderism is appalling because you’re comparing mere humans to the Chosen-By-God, Orange Jesus.

    Cult Leaders can’t concede. Neither can cultists admit Cult Leader has failed. Christians have been waiting for Jesus to come floating out of the sky 2000 years after the Romans nailed him up.

    I’ll say it again: if you’re dumb enough to believe in angels you’re dumb enough to believe anything. Garbage In; Garbage Out.

  24. An Interested Party says:

    So this morning James puts up a post about all of this titled “Not as Bad as We Feared” and here we are a couple of posts later after learning that the Secretary of State is talking about a second Trump Administration and that 70% of Republicans are swallowing this propaganda with no end in sight for all of this chicanery…a better title for all of this would be “Even Worse Than We Feared”…this reminds me of two kids in school where one of the kids constantly bullies the other kid and then when he’s called on it claims that it’s no big deal and he was only kidding…Democrats need to stop allowing themselves to be bullied…

  25. This is what concerns me: the utter undermining of trust in elections.

  26. Modulo Myself says:

    Trump is suing to disqualify legally-cast ballots in PA. They want to rule, after the fact, that it was illegal for PA to accept mail-in ballots postmarked before the election, even though that was the law. 70% of the GOP doesn’t think that elections are unfair because of fraud. These people believe elections are unfair because people they don’t like get to vote. Trump is not going to win this case, but let’s not lie about who Republicans are. They aren’t a bunch of cranks obsessed with how Rove stole Ohio in 2004. They think Democrats steal the election sometimes by voting and sometimes by cheating. Either way, they have to be stopped.

  27. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself: vote by mail has been normal since the civil war but now it’s unconstitutional, according to the Trumpers.

    So far judges have thrown this shit out on their asses, but if it starts going south…

  28. Teve says:

    I suspect there is enough of the Supreme Court to say fuck you Trump, that this will end. If it doesn’t, I’m going to need some names and addresses to get to.

    Anybody’s always welcome to chat at St********@gm***.com, thanks for the two who already did.

  29. Teve says:

    Or St********@pr********.com, more secure address in Switzerland.

  30. Jim Brown 32 says:

    No Joyner… I think Abrams made her career getting Trump’s ass beat in Georgia. Frigging Georgia! Now THAT is Gawd Damn Cold Blooded.

    If she gets the Republicans ass beat in the Ga runoffs–she’ll be a legend.

  31. ptfe says:

    @Modulo Myself: Those 10k ballots aren’t going to swing an election.

    Trump’s big problem in all these suits is that he can’t demonstrate harm. He’s whining and complaining, but every incremental move might be worth a few dozen or hundred or maybe at the outside a few thousand voters in a single state. He needs 3 states to flip, and he needs a boatload of votes nullified in each one to do it. There’s good reason to laugh him out of court.

    Meanwhile Republicans – who have already been caught in vote fraud cases this election! – are largely stuck on the idea that, because ABC News said a vote count increased by a large number for Biden but not at all for Trump, there’s some grand conspiracy. They’re innumerate and irrational. It’s a scary combination, because it also means logic doesn’t work on them.

    And James, move in from these tired old Republican taking points. You seemed to be turning a corner, but you can’t seem to shed the worldview that winning by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people in a quasi-legal but clearly immoral way is just “knowing how to play the game.”

  32. michilines says:

    James, this: Stacey Abrams has made a career out of it
    is why I know that your support for women and anything democratic is skin deep. You could have said that she devoted herself to registering voters in Georgia, you could have said she turned the lost into a success by turning the state blue, but no, you belittle her and slight a person who lost a battle but who very well may win the war. There would be no run-offs without her. Georgia would have gone red without her effort. Now it stands to go for Biden. Think of your girls. For them. You seem unable to credit a woman who made a huge difference. She’s part of the reason there are two runoffs in the first place. Giver her that man.

  33. michilines says:

    Oh and James, you even had Georgia going blue in your prediction. Who did that? The DNC?

  34. Monala says:

    @michilines: well said.

  35. EddieInCA says:

    In the last decade, the GOP has…

    Chose Donald Trump as its presidential nominee.
    Has openly strategized about suppressing the Black vote because Black voters heavily favor Democrats.
    Played footsie with insane conspiracy theories like QAnon.
    Spent the entire Obama presidency ginning up fake scandals.
    Lied relentlessly about its dedication to reducing the deficit.
    Lied equally relentlessly about its dedication to passing a health care bill.
    Lied (and lied and lied) about the impact of its tax bills on the rich.
    Has killed untold thousands of people by making mask-wearing into a partisan football during a pandemic.
    Has openly appealed to racial bigotry as a way of increasing its share of the white vote.
    Denied the obvious reality of destructive climate change solely for partisan benefit.
    Is currently doing its best to convince its base that the entire 2020 election was fraudulent.


  36. de stijl says:

    Joyner is a cool cat. Smart. Savvy. Dialed-in. (I dig his new pic)

    But the default setting is institutionalist. Catch him off-guard, that’s gonna be the first take.

  37. Not the IT Dept. says:

    James can’t get past the problem of finding himself agreeing with people he would normally have no time for. It makes do silly things like both-siderism and claiming to believe that GOP congress critters will actually stand up to Trump even though there is nothing that would indicate they even want to.

  38. Northerner says:

    I assume that means Republicans also don’t believe they won the Senate, given that the results are tainted by the same fraud.

  39. Hal_10000 says:

    After 2016, 2/3 of Democrats believed Russia has literally altered votes. I think the lesson here is more about how Americans are sore loser than anything else.

  40. El Rhe Forman says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yes… I have been calling Trumpism a cult for years and it seems now many more knowledgable than “moi” see it too! Worse than Jamestown, Waco, Charles Manson. Trump’s cult followers would die for him, but much scarier…they will KILL for him. Trump is the most dangerous man in America and perhaps the world. And his supporters and the whole Republican party are complicit. Democracy is dead.