More than one-third of U.S. adults now believe that President Joe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected, a new survey shows, marking an uptick from December 2021.
The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, conducted last month, found that 36 percent of respondents believe that President Biden’s election was illegitimate—a 7-point increase from two years ago.
Comparatively, 62 percent said he was legitimately elected, down from 69 percent in 2021.
Republicans showed the largest decrease in belief in the president’s validity, dropping from 39 percent to 31 percent. Independents also saw a 6-point drop, from 72 percent to 66 percent, while Democrats saw a slight dip, from 94 percent to 91 percent.
In the same vein, 33 percent of all adults said there’s solid evidence of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election. That includes 62 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents, and 10 percent of Democrats.
Overall, 63 percent said there’s no solid evidence.
Election Integrity Still a Concern
The survey’s results track with the findings of a CNN poll conducted in July 2023.
That poll found that 38 percent of adults believed President Biden didn’t legitimately win the 2020 election. It was the highest percentage to have given that response out of the eight surveys that the outlet has conducted on that topic.
Conversely, 61 percent said the president legitimately won enough votes to secure the presidency—a clear majority, but a new low.
While a majority (51 percent) of those who doubted President Biden’s legitimacy said there was solid evidence that he lost the election, 49 percent said it was just their suspicion. Those results marked a significant decline in certainty among the group from 2021, when 73 percent said there was solid evidence.
Nevertheless, the results across both polls show that questions linger about the validity of the 2020 election results for a significant portion of the public, despite the insistence of certain media outlets—including The Washington Post—that there’s no evidence of fraud.
Former President Donald Trump, for his part, has maintained that the 2020 election was stolen—a claim that he’s currently defending in two separate criminal cases.
The rest of the Washington Post-UMD survey focused primarily on attitudes surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
Overall, the results show a slight softening in the public’s perception of the event, with 50 percent now saying that the protesters were “mostly violent,” compared to 54 percent who said the same previously.
Among that group, Republicans again marked the largest shift over time, dropping from 26 percent to 18 percent. By contrast, both Democrats (77 percent) and independents (54 percent) alike were just 1 percent less likely to view the protesters as mostly violent, while those who viewed them as “mostly peaceful” (21 percent) or “equally peaceful and violent” (28 percent) increased slightly.
Another finding was that fewer Americans hold President Trump responsible for the breach. Where 60 percent said he bears either “a great deal” or “a good amount” of responsibility for the event in 2021, only a slight majority (53 percent) now say the same.
Republicans again account for most of that change, with just 14 percent holding the 45th president responsible, compared to 27 percent in 2021. However, it’s worth noting that Democrats saw the second-largest drop in this category, from 92 percent to 86 percent, while independents shifted just 1 point down to 56 percent.
The results are noteworthy, given that two states recently disqualified the 45th president from appearing on their presidential primary ballots based on his alleged activities on and about Jan. 6, 2021.
The Colorado Supreme Court and Maine’s Democrat Secretary of State Shenna Bellows argue that President Trump is ineligible to hold presidential office under the 14th Amendment, which bars certain individuals from holding federal offices if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
That legal theory has been floated by critics of the former president in multiple states as a reason for keeping him off the ballot.
President Trump’s legal team disputes the clause’s applicability to the presidency and the depiction of the Capitol breach as an insurrection. His attorneys have appealed both states’ decisions, which have been suspended as the litigation plays out.