Trump won the electoral college, but he lost the popular vote by over 2.8 million votes to Clinton. The president has blamed his popular vote loss on widespread voter fraud, but there is no evidence to support his claim. Still, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll found 47 percent of Republicans believe Trump won the popular vote, while just 42 percent believe Clinton won. Overall, the poll found, 28 percent of voters believe Trump won the popular vote.
The survey underscores the effects of the president’s baseless claims about voter fraud and shows how Trump has undermined confidence in the American electoral system without offering any evidence. Trump convened a panel in May to investigate the integrity of elections earlier this year, an effort critics say is unnecessary will stoke fears of voter fraud and lay the groundwork for more restrictive voting laws. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the panel’s vice chair, said this month “we may never know” whether Clinton defeated Trump in the election.
“When the president says something, even if it’s 100% demonstrably false, many will believe him,” he wrote in an email. “And it’s particularly demoralizing when the falsehood he’s pushing could have a long term effect on delegitimizating our democratic form of government and the professionals of both parties who work to administer and protect elections.”
The Morning Consult/Politico poll numbers are higher than some previous surveys on the popular vote. Poll researchers conducted the survey of 3,981 registered voters online from July 20-24. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
In a November Gallup survey, two thirds of Americans said they believed Clinton won the popular vote, while 15 percent said they thought Trump triumphed. In that survey, 23 percent of Republicans said they believed more people voted for Trump than Clinton. In a June Economist/YouGov survey, 51 percent of Republicans said more Americans voted for Trump.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D), a member of Trump’s panel to investigate elections, said during the commission’s first meeting last week he wanted the panel to investigate a lack of confidence in American elections. But critics say the panel itself, which has several members who have pushed accusations of voter fraud, will only further undermine confidence in elections.
While some top Republicans have expressed skepticism of Trump’s claims about widespread voter fraud, they haven’t spoken out forcefully against it. The White House has also defended Trump’s claims, without offering any additional evidence.
“If the president says it, let me do more research on it. My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that,” said Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, last week of Trump’s claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally last year.
Amid Trump’s statements about voter fraud, some states have moved to implement more restrictive voting measures to shore up election confidence. In New Hampshire, for example, officials tightened the state’s residency requirements for registering to vote months after Trump insisted ― without evidence ― thousands were bused into the state to vote on election day. Election officials said they had no proof of Trump’s claims, but the measure was necessary to combat the perception the election was vulnerable to fraud.