President Donald Trump’s repeated insistence that widespread fraud undermined this month’ presidential election has left a mark on Americans’ faith in the voting process, according to a postelection USC Dornsife survey released Thursday.
Using a 0-100 scale to measure their confidence that all ballots were tallied correctly, the average ranking from voters was a middling 58, the Los Angeles Times reported. Democrats gave higher marks — 79 — that the vote count was accurate, while Republicans on the whole rated their confidence in the election results’ accuracy at just 34.
“What’s really very clear is that the large group of voters who voted for Donald Trump in this election have absorbed the message that the vote may not have been completely, fairly counted,” said Jill Darling, the director of the USC Dornsife survey. Democrats, she said, may have lost confidence because of concerns about voter suppression or problems with the U.S. Postal Service.
The final preelection tracking poll estimated a national electoral outcome of Joe Biden with 53% of the popular vote and Trump with 44%. The actual results were a narrower spread: Biden with 51% and Trump getting 47%, with results still being tallied.
“Clearly, we were overestimating Biden a little bit and underestimating Trump by a little bit more,” Darling said.
To explain the discrepancy, Darling said the USC team has begun to look into whether its probability questions, in which respondents ranked their answers on a scale of 0 to 100, did not work as well this election year or if it was missing any key population of voters. The team’s analysis found that the survey did do a good job of predicting overall likelihood of voting. It also found no evidence that people lied or were inconsistent in their responses.
One possible reason for the polling miss could be the deep polarization in the electorate, according to The Times.
Many other polls this cycle also tended to underrate support for Trump, raising expectations for a commanding Biden win coupled with a blue wave of Democratic wins down-ballot. While Biden did receive a record-setting 79 million votes so far, Democrats fell short in key Senate races and lost seats in the House of Representatives, although they maintained a majority.
Just before the election, for example, the USC Dornsife poll estimated a double-digit win for Biden. However, a separate question about how voters thought their friends, family and acquaintances may vote pointed to a tighter race — 51% for Biden versus 46% for Trump — that more closely aligned with the true results.
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