Most Americans expect cheating in the November elections

Steven Smith, the Kate M. Gregg Distinguished Professor of Social Science


Perhaps more this year than in recent election years, there is a robust debate about the fundamental integrity of the November election. President Trump and his allies routinely, and contrary to the best evidence, say that an increase in mail balloting will result in voter fraud. Trump has even claimed that mail ballots will produce “the most rigged election” in U.S. history.

A more realistic concern, which the intelligence community warns is already happening, is foreign interference — something that Joe Biden and Democrats worry about quite a bit.

In past elections, research has shown, the outcome influences views of the legitimacy of the winners. The presidential elections of 2016 and 2020 suggest a different possibility: Both parties may fear that the election’s integrity was compromised, regardless of whether they win or lose. Indeed, Trump has routinely questioned his 2016 popular-vote loss despite his victory in the electoral college.

Whether voters are concerned about voter fraud or foreign interference matters a great deal for how the rest of the election year plays out. New survey evidence helps illuminate how many Americans have these concerns and, in particular how the parties are divided not only from each other but even internally. But perhaps more troubling is that majorities in both parties actually share a concern: that election officials will cheat when the votes are counted.

Read the full piece in The Washington Post.

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