Most Republicans say they don't trust elections, an NPR poll finds Many Republicans appear to have bought into Trump's lies about widespread election fraud. A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that just a third of GOP voters say they trust elections are fair.

Most Americans trust elections are fair, but sharp divides exist, a new poll finds

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Most Americans trust elections. That's what a new survey from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist College says. But Republicans appear to have accepted former President Trump's lies about widespread voter fraud. NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro joins us now to talk more about the findings. And Domenico, let's just start with what the poll revealed about how many people actually trust elections and how many people don't.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Sure. Well, a solid majority of respondents, 58%, say they have a great deal or good amount of trust in U.S. elections. Higher percentages also said that they would trust the results of the 2022 and 2024 elections, even if their preferred candidate loses. But - and this is a big but - not everyone feels this way, particularly many Republicans.

CORNISH: Can you talk about the partisan divide on that? What did you hear from those voters?

MONTANARO: Well, in the survey, two-thirds of Republicans say they have no trust or not much trust that the elections are fair. Of course, that's a false line that former President Trump has continued to push, and it looks like Republicans have largely bought into what Trump is saying. Among all respondents, 62% say Trump's making claims about a rigged election is mostly because he didn't like the outcome. But three-quarters of Republicans say it's mostly because he's right - that there were real cases of fraud that changed the results, even though that's not true. At first glance, you know, that's a mind-blowing finding until, you know, you realize, when you look at conservative media habits, for years, they've been taking in a steady drip of content that reinforces previously held beliefs, even if it's wrong. And those outlets have been giving voice to or amplifying Trump's lies. And it's left us sharply divided and polarized to the point where we can't even start with the same shared set of facts.

CORNISH: But, you know, you wrote in your analysis of the results online today on that there are actually some big differences within the spectrum of those Republicans. What did you learn?

MONTANARO: Well, definitely. I mean, this comes down to education. When you just look at Republicans and independents who lean Republican, we found wide gaps with - for those with college degrees and those without college degrees. College-educated Republican voters were much more likely to have trust in elections, for example, and to say that they would accept the results in 2022 and '24. Those without degrees were also 10 points more likely to believe that Trump continues to say that the election was rigged, mostly because there were real cases of fraud.

CORNISH: With all of this, what does the poll tell us about President Biden's political standing versus President Trump's?

MONTANARO: Well, it's not great for either one of them, frankly. We asked Republican and Democratic-leaning voters if they thought their party had a better chance at winning with Trump and Biden on the ballot respectively, and the results were lukewarm at best for both of them. Just half of Republican voters think they'd have the best chance with Trump. But an even worse only 36% of potential Democratic voters said they think they'd have the best shot with Biden. About 1 in 5 Democratic voters weren't so sure. So for them, I guess, the jury is still out. Among all adults, Biden also has just a 44% approval rating with about half disapproving. Importantly, he's below 40% with independents, which was a key group that helped him into the White House in 2020. That's a very troubling sign for the president and for Democrats. But, you know, it's easy to see why Biden's numbers are sagging, you know, with prices for the things we buy up and the recoveries for COVID and the economy going slower than they had hoped for.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

Thanks so much.

MONTANARO: Hey, thank you.


Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.