With the Electoral College poised to elect Joe Biden on Monday, a sizable 62% majority of the nation’s voters feel the election is “over and settled” and it’s “time to move on.” Large majorities feel their own votes were counted correctly, and a majority acknowledge Mr. Biden as the “legitimate winner.”
But the president’s backers feel very differently: 82% of Trump voters say they do not consider Mr. Biden legitimate and — perhaps most notably for the coming transition month — almost half of President Trump’s voters say Mr. Trump should refuse to concede after that Electoral College vote happens, and instead do all he can to stay in power.
As a rationale, the Trump voters who do not see Mr. Biden as legitimate widely accept Mr. Trump’s premise for overturning the election results, and — even as states have certified results and courts have ruled against challenges — echo the president’s assertions of fraud.
And before the Electoral College votes head to Congress to be read, we find similar sentiments and splits regarding what the president’s party should do now: two thirds of voters say congressional Republicans should acknowledge Mr. Biden and move on to other legislative matters, but most Trump voters instead say congressional Republicans should do all they can to help Mr. Trump stay in power.
What happened in the election?
Most voters nationwide also say that their own vote and the votes in their state were recorded and counted correctly. This includes most Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. So, much of the doubt among Trump voters appears to stem from a belief about things that they feel happened with other peoples’ ballots, including in other states.
As we have seen on many topics throughout his presidency, the president’s messaging here is picked up by his supporters. Among those who see Mr. Biden as not legitimate, an overwhelming 93% of them (most of whom are Republicans and Trump voters) echo the president’s rhetoric, saying that “millions of ballots were cast illegally.” Similarly large percentages of those who don’t see Mr. Biden as legitimate say that voting equipment, software and/or ballots were “manipulated,” and that overall, “Donald Trump got more votes” but it “was not reported.”
Also differing from the view of most voters, the president’s backers believe the mainstream media did not report the results of the election accurately.
Views expressed by Trump voters appear to be more than just the result of disappointment at the outcome. When we offered people a chance to explain why they would not view Mr. Biden as legitimate and offered the option that they were simply not ready to do so at the moment, few took it, saying instead it was because there was “fraud or inaccuracies,” in their view. Trump voters also largely reject the idea that the president is himself making these claims simply because he’s upset by his loss, with 85% saying he has “hard evidence of widespread vote fraud.”
The skeptical view of the election results among Trump voters does not extend down ballot, however, as nearly all of them (98%) believe Republicans who won gains in the House and won contested Senate races did so legitimately.
And in yet another sign of how difficult it may be to bring Americans together, most Trump voters reject the idea of finding common ground with Mr. Biden and his supporters, while most Biden voters say now is time to find common ground with Trump supporters.
This CBS News survey of 2,234 registered voters in the U.S. was conducted by YouGov between December 8-11, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as the 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is +/- 2.3 points.