WASHINGTON — About two-thirds of Republicans say Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president, according to a new poll conducted barely two weeks after he was inaugurated.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 33% of Republicans say Biden was legitimately elected as the 46th president of the United States, while 65% say he was not. Overall, roughly two-thirds of Americans say Biden was legitimately elected; nearly all Democrats say so.
Former President Donald Trump and his allies disputed the outcome of the 2020 election for months, arguing without evidence that it was stolen and that there was fraudulent voting in pivotal states. Courts dismissed those allegations in lawsuits. State and local election officials verified - and, in some cases, reverified - that voting was fair and secure. Trump‘s own attorney general said there was no evidence of widespread fraud.
Among the findings in the survey, conducted Jan. 28-Feb. 1:
- The misinformation campaign culminated in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol building by a group of pro-Trump rioters intending to disrupt the certification of election results. Now, Trump, the only president to have been impeached twice, faces a trial in the Senate for a charge of inciting the insurrection. The new AP-NORC poll shows about half of Americans say the Senate should convict Trump, while 4 in 10 say the Senate should not and about 1 in 10 aren’t sure. But nearly two-thirds of Americans believe Trump bears at least some responsibility for the breach of the Capitol.
- About 1 in 10 Republicans think the Senate should convict Trump, though somewhat more, about 3 in 10, hold Trump at least partially responsible for the breach of the Capitol. Most Republicans, about three-quarters, say Trump was a good or great president.
Besides Republicans‘ doubt about Biden’s presidency, other polling shows Trump‘s false messaging about the election resonated with his party. While most Trump voters said the elections in their communities were run and administered well, Pew Research Center polling found most also said the elections nationwide were not. A December AP-NORC poll showed 14% of Republicans volunteering in an open-ended question that voting laws were a top priority for the government to address in 2021, up from 1% the year before.
- Biden has called for unity in a time of crisis, but the Democratic president faces deep pessimism among Republicans. About a quarter of Republicans do say they approve of the way Biden is handling his job, a sign he may be experiencing the honeymoon period that was standard for most modern presidents. But about three-quarters disapprove. Roughly two-thirds of Republicans lack confidence in Biden’s ability to effectively manage the White House, and about that many say they don’t have confidence in him to handle the economy. About half are skeptical of his ability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
- The poll also suggests Republican leaders may face challenges in a post-Trump era. About two-thirds of Americans have an unfavorable view of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; about 2 in 10 see him favorably, and close to as many don’t know enough to say. The percentage of Americans saying they have an unfavorable view of McConnell increased substantially since February 2020, when about 4 in 10 said they had a negative opinion. Among Republicans, about half have a negative opinion, up from about a quarter a year ago. McConnell voted with the majority of Republicans to dismiss the impeachment trial on the grounds that impeaching a president out of office is unconstitutional, but not before saying that the former president held some responsibility for the riot.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is much less known than his leadership counterparts, with close to half of Americans saying they don’t know enough about him to give an opinion. Among Republicans, 3 in 10 say they have a favorable opinion, and about that many have an unfavorable opinion. The poll was conducted before the House decided in a near-party line vote Thursday to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee posts over her past statements supporting violence against Democrats and promoting hateful conspiracy theories. McCarthy said that Greene’s positions “do not represent the views of my party” but fiercely objected to her removal from House committees.
Meanwhile, about three-quarters of Republicans say they have a favorable view of Trump.
• The AP-NORC poll of 1,055 adults was conducted Jan. 28-Feb. 1 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
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