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No, a 'vast majority' of Americans don't think the election was rigged

Trump’s latest claim is unsurprisingly detached from reality.

By Donna Provencher - December 09, 2020
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Donald Trump

During a Monday morning tweetstorm railing against the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, Donald Trump falsely claimed that most Americans think the election was “rigged” — but the facts say otherwise.

Trump retweeted an explanation of the difference between two of his many failed and ill-fated lawsuits seeking to overturn the election.

“This was not my case as has been so incorrectly reported,” he wrote in a post accompanying the tweet. “The case that everyone has been waiting for is the State’s case with Texas and numerous others joining. It is very strong, ALL CRITERIA MET. How can you have a presidency when a vast majority think the election was RIGGED?”

But it’s not true that the majority of Americans believe the election was unfairly decided.

A Monmouth University poll in mid-November indicated that 52% of Americans considered themselves either “happy” (34%) or “satisfied” (18%) that Trump lost the presidential election. And, according to the same poll, well over half of Americans — a full 60% — believe Biden won the election “fair and square.”

Recent Morning Consult data also shows that around 61% of Americans believe the election was “probably” or “definitely” free and fair.

Trump has been spouting debunked claims about rigged elections since before he entered the political sphere.

In 2012, he complained about former President Barack Obama’s win, alleging it was the result of cheating.

“This election is a total sham and a travesty,” he tweeted about Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)’s loss on election night that year. “We are not a democracy!”

In another tweet, he wrote that Americans “can’t let this [Obama’s second term] happen.”

“We should march on Washington and stop this travesty,” he wrote. “Our nation is totally divided!”

Trump also falsely alleged the election was rigged when he lost in the 2016 Republican Iowa caucus to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who won by three points.

“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!” Trump tweeted.

He also baselessly accused Cruz of “fraud.”

“Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” he wrote.

In 2016, Trump repeatedly claimed that Hillary Clinton supporters committed fraud in various states, and tweeted that if all “illegal” ballots were thrown out, he would have won the 2016 popular vote as well as the Electoral College.

Meanwhile, Trump’s own officials and close allies have admitted time and again that there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Even Attorney General William Barr, a close Trump confidante, has turned on Trump’s repeated lies, stating earlier in December that there was zero evidence to support his claims.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” he told the Associated Press on Dec. 1.

Republicans have long asserted voter fraud where none exists. According to a Washington Post report, only about 30% of Republicans said that they were positive the outcome of the 2012 election was legitimate.

Research has shown that this sort of thinking is not uncommon among extreme partisans, and only feeds their conspiracy theories about election fraud.

A 2017 study in Political Research Quarterly noted that “partisanship affects the timing and content of belief in election-related conspiracy theories,” and that “belief in election fraud is a common and predictable consequence of both underlying conspiratorial thinking and motivated partisan reasoning.”

Dan Cassino, professor of government and politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University, has noted that such extremists are unlikely to be swayed by facts when it comes to election results.

“More information isn’t likely to change determined partisans’ minds,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “Political psychology research has revealed a phenomenon known as ‘motivated reasoning’ in which people process information not to reach an objectively correct conclusion, but to bolster what they already believe.”

That thinking has spurred on the recent wave of “stop the steal” protests on the far right. Conservative supporters of Trump have fed on his claims of widespread election fraud, pushing mixed messages to either stop vote counts or resume them in various places across the country, depending on how Trump was faring there.

The protests have also sparked threats of violence against the election officials charged with carrying out the process, some of them Republicans themselves.

“Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right. It’s not right. Death threats, physical threats, intimidation, it’s too much,” said Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia elections official, on Dec. 1.

Pleading with Trump and other GOP lawmakers to stop spreading lies about fraud, he added, “Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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