(CN) — A majority of Republicans continue to believe that Joe Biden's 2020 presidential election victory was the result of "voter fraud," according to a poll released Friday by Monmouth University.
The university surveyed 563 Republican and Republican-leaning voters, asking them a range of questions about what they believed and what was acceptable to them in a candidate. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they believed Biden's victory was the result of voter fraud, while 28% said he won "fair and square." That margin is less extreme than it was in November 2020 when Monmouth first asked the question. Back then, 69% said "voter fraud" and just 18% said "fair and square."
According to the more recent survey, 55% of Republicans still think you can be a good Republican and acknowledge that Biden was legitimately elected. Supporting same-sex marriage is similarly not a deal-breaker for most Republicans, though supporting legal abortion is — only 38% said a pro-choice candidate could still be a good Republican.
"It’s interesting that there isn’t a clear orthodoxy on issues," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. "That there is some leeway that you have and still be considered a good Republican. By that same token, a third of Republicans say you can’t acknowledge Joe Biden president and still be considered a Republican. That suggests there’s a sizable portion of the Republican Party that are just about the tribe and being loyal to the tribe."
He added: "That might be one of the reasons why there’s not an adherence to a policy orthodoxy. For most people, it’s just about standing by your leaders or leadership, and a cultural view of the world that is divorced from normal policy concerns. "
When asked about their preferences for the next Republican nominee for president, 39% said they prefer Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who rose to prominence by resisting mask and vaccine mandates during the height of the Covid pandemic. Twenty-six percent said they want former President Donald Trump to be the nominee. The next most popular candidate, former Vice President Mike Pence, was picked by just 2% of respondents.
A USA Today poll released this week had DeSantis leading Trump by 23 points. But Murray played down the importance of such polls, taken far in advance of the 2024 primaries.
"Early polls really are driven by media coverage," said Murray. "Right now the media is talking about Trump vs. DeSantis as the knockout championship fight."
When asked what Trump should do if he loses the Republican nomination, 22% of those surveyed said he should run for president as an independent; 72% said he should not.
"You have a significant portion of the party that is really just about the Trump image of the party, the culture wars, them vs. us," said Murray. "There are others who are holding on to the old fiscal conservative wing of the party. The question is whether those two can continue to hang together."
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