(CN) — President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to sow doubt about the integrity of the November election and mail-in voting appear to be working among his supporters, a new survey from the Pew Research Center suggests, though a majority still say they trust the election will produce a clear winner.
In the survey released Wednesday, 55% of Trump supporters said they were confident that the outcome of the election would be clear after all the votes are counted. Still, a much larger portion of Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s supporters – 76% – said they would be confident in the ultimate outcome.
“We always see some divides like this in elections, but the process is so important this year because so much is up in the air with the pandemic and everything that it’s heightened,” said Brad Jones, a Pew researcher who worked on the survey.
The party-line split over whether voters think a clear picture of the winner will emerge despite the prospect for lengthy delays in vote counting is just one of many “wide differences” the Pew survey found among Trump and Biden supporters over multiple aspects of voting and the overall election process.
The confidence gap between the two camps on the likelihood of a clear outcome was echoed in voters’ thoughts about mail-in voting, a process the president has repeatedly – and often falsely – slammed as susceptible to fraud.
Seventy-seven percent of Biden supporters told the Pew researchers they were “very or somewhat confident” that absentee or mail-in ballots would be counted accurately. Meanwhile, just 36% of Trump supporters expressed the same confidence.
Still, Jones cautioned that while Trump supporters overall are indeed more skeptical of mail-in voting than Biden’s camp, the picture becomes more nuanced depending on where voters live.
“Many of the states that are conducting their election primarily by mail are places where more Democrats tend to live, so it’s places like California, Oregon, Washington,” he said. “Trump supporters who live in those places that are doing a lot of absentee balloting, they’re more supportive of the idea of absentee balloting than other Trump supporters living in other places.”
Conversely, he said, voters who live in more Republican-dominated areas of the South where mail-in voting is not as widespread tend to have lower confidence in the method.
“Some of that does seem to be just because people have less familiarity with it,” Jones said.
They survey also found signs of Americans bracing for what elections experts have cautioned could become less of an Election Day and more of an election week or even month.
While the vast majority of voters surveyed – 80% – said they believe it’s important for Americans to know the outcome of the election “within a day or two,” only half said they were confident that would actually happen.
More broadly, the survey results suggested an overall weakening of Americans’ faith in elections systems at the national level, though faith in local elections remains strong.
Ninety percent of those surveyed said they felt confident elections would run smoothly in their local communities, but only 62% said they had the same faith in elections nationwide.
“The new survey finds that while large majorities of voters think that the elections in their community will be run and administered very or somewhat well, they are less confident in the administration of elections throughout the country,” Pew Research Center said in its report on the survey results. “And voters’ confidence in elections in the United States has declined since 2018 – with most of the change coming among voters who supported Republican candidates then and Trump today.”
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