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CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?


Most Americans don’t think there was widespread fraud in 2020, but since Joe Biden won, most Republicans say there has been. This is linked to the pressure for new voting restrictions in some states, where making it easier to vote is seen as an advantage for Democrats.

A closer look at why some still support the fraud claim and what Republicans specifically claim – despite the lack of real evidence – shows a strong connection to partisan politics. Republicans say the fraud primarily took place in towns and communities that vote Democrat, but far less in suburban and rural areas where many Republicans live. They also say it stemmed from postal ballots, which former President Trump has long opposed and which has favored Democrats in many places. Meanwhile, most say the ballots were counted correctly in the states Mr. Trump won.

Additionally, we see the continued strong influence of the former president’s words, with many saying they believe it because they heard it from him, as well as social media and selected news sources.

CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?

Where do people say there was fraud?

Those who think there was widespread fraud in 2020 believe it happened more in communities that vote Democratic than in those that vote Republican. Seven in 10 attribute “a lot” of fraud to large cities and urban areas (which vote majority Democrats), against 22% for suburbs (which are more competitive) and 14% in rural areas (which vote majority Republicans).

CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?

And opinions follow a similar pattern when it comes to constituent voter groups. Those who perceive widespread electoral fraud and irregularities attribute it more to black communities (a group that votes largely Democratic) than to white communities (a group that votes largely Republican).

CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?

Opinions about voter fraud also differ with respect to how the ballots were cast, and not just where they were cast. More than three in four of those who believe in widespread fraud attribute much of it to postal ballots, a method used disproportionately by voters of color and repeatedly criticized by former President Trump. Among our validated voters in 2020, for example, voters of color are more than 10 points more likely than white voters to have voted by mail.

CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?

And then there is the political lens. Most of those who believe the election was marred by voter fraud and irregularities express at least some confidence that the votes in the states won by Mr. Trump were counted correctly, but with regard to the states Biden won, they are “not at all confident” – only 10% are convinced those votes were correctly counted.

How did people hear about voter fraud?

When asked where they heard about widespread fraud, 43% cite Donald Trump, who has consistently made baseless fraud charges since leaving office . More, 58%, cite their own personal observations. This is especially the case among those who say they are not convinced that the votes in their states were recorded and counted correctly.

The source mentioned most often, by seven out of ten, is “news reports”.

CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?

While opinions on electoral fraud are primarily linked to partisanship and support for Donald Trump, the sources of information that are used regularly have an impact on opinions within these groups.

Trump voters who say they regularly watch conservative-leaning cable channels, such as FOX News, OANN, or Newsmax, are particularly likely to report fraud. Eight in ten in this group say voter fraud was rampant, compared to two-thirds of other Trump voters.

Fraud and opinions on the voting process

Perceptions of fraud are closely linked to support for adding additional restrictions to the voting process, which many states are considering. Of those who claim fraud is rampant, six in ten want the vote to be more difficult, compared with just one in ten of those who say there has been little or no voter fraud. Making it harder to vote is a minority view across the country, with just 27% of Americans saying they would like it to happen.

Trump voters and Republicans who support the widespread fraud claim are also more likely than other members of their party to say that facilitating the vote would benefit Democrats electorally.

CBS News Analysis: What Drives Republican and Trump Voters Belief in Widespread Voter Fraud?

The research on the issue of fraud is unequivocal: There is little to no evidence of voter fraud in the recent U.S. election, with most conspiracy theories about 2020 completely debunked. U.S. courts ultimately dismissed about 70 election court challenges, according to the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. Additionally, methodologically rigorous studies find that double voting, voting by non-citizens, and ballots cast on behalf of the deceased simply do not occur much, if at all – the estimated prevalence is often statistically impossible to determine. distinguish from zero.

This is part of a series of reports from a new CBS News study on elections and the voting process in the United States. The study relies on several data sources: a national survey, data from electoral rolls and certified electoral results. The survey includes an oversample of over 2,000 validated voters who were matched to voter files confirming their voting history. We also reference the academic work and data journalism of other researchers on voting rights and election administration.

The survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,664 U.S. residents surveyed between July 6 and July 15, 2021. Of the 2,065 self-reported voters in the sample, 2,023 were matched to voters’ records and confirmed to have voted. The sample was weighted for gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as the 2020 presidential vote. and registration status. The margin of error is ± 2.7 points for the total sample.

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