Confidence in Acceptance of Election Results Tied to News Consumption

(CN) – In the wake of the chaotic Iowa Caucus and a tight race in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, the Pew Research Center revealed Wednesday that public engagement – and the source – in election news has a bigger impact on whether people accept election results than party affiliations.

In a survey of 12,043 adults conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 11, researchers found that 63% of respondents who said they followed election news closely were at least “a fair amount” confident that the public would accept the election results “regardless of who wins.” In contrast, 65% respondents who said that they did not follow election news closely said that they did not have much confidence that the public would accept the results.

Reporters with various forms of “fake news” from an 1894 illustration by Frederick Burr Opper.

Between 54 and 56% of those who followed print news, national network news broadcasts, radio, news websites directly and cable television were likely to trust that the public would accept the election results. Those who followed local television broadcasts were less confident the public would accept the results while those who followed election news on social media were the most cynical: 61% ittle to no confidence that the public would accept election results.

 

Stratifying by specific news sources, NPR listeners were most likely to hold confidence in the public to accept election results at 52% with “fair” confidence. In tandem with broader data, a 46% plurality of social media consumers of news had “not too much” confidence that the public would accept election results. Few respondents indicated strong confidence or a strong lack of confidence of the public to accept election results, though respondents did slightly lean toward “fair” confidence.

Though Democratic respondents were slightly more likely to have confidence that the public would accept election results, data from Republican respondents ran parallel when stratified by news consumption level. Of Democrats who followed election news closely, 70% indicated confidence in election veracity, followed by those who followed election news “somewhat” closely at 58%.

Republicans were less confident than both Democrats and the average, but 54% of well-informed Republicans indicated confidence in election veracity, followed by 51% of Republicans who followed election news somewhat closely.

Looking deeper into the data, most respondents were split on how they felt about the presidential election process overall. Most respondents fell close to the 37% average for “somewhat well.”

However, Fox News viewers represented an outlier within the data. Sixty-one percent of Fox News viewers felt that the presidential election process works “very well.” Comparatively, only 16% of ABC and CBS viewers, 11% of social media consumers and 2% of New York Times readers felt the same.

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