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Image: Joe Biden Sworn In As 46th President Of The United States At U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony
President Joe Biden speaks during his inaugural ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021.Patrick Semansky / Pool via Getty Images

Most GOP voters still question Biden's legitimacy (yes, even now)

The hope was that Republicans would accept Biden's presidency as post-election drama faded from view. That's clearly not what's happened.


As 2021 got underway, it was discouraging to see so many Republican voters buy into the Big Lie and question the legitimacy of Joe Biden's presidency. The fact that these numbers aren't budging makes matters considerably worse.

Consider the findings from the latest poll from AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Perceptions on the legitimacy of Biden's election in 2020 remain basically unchanged since February 2021. Overall, 68% said Biden was legitimately elected. There has been no significant movement in the partisan divisions; most Republicans still doubt the validity of the November 2020 election.

Looking over the Associated Press' report on the results, in February, just two weeks after Inauguration Day, only a third of Republican voters saw Biden's presidency as legitimate. In this month's follow-up poll, that number hadn't changed at all.

In February, 65% of Republicans said Biden hadn't been legitimately elected. This month, that number inched just a little higher, to 66%.

There's nothing to suggest the AP's poll is an outlier: the results are entirely in line with recent surveys from Monmouth and CNN, which produced nearly identical results.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, my hope for months has been that reality would set in gradually over time. In fact, it seemed plausible to think that some of the early polling on this -- during the presidential transition period, for example -- was driven by more of an emotional reaction than a meaningful assessment of the facts. Many GOP voters were led to believe that Trump would win, so perhaps their rejection of Biden's legitimate victory was little more than reflexive anger.

In the same vein, as the nation's focus shifted to post-inaugural governance, it seemed possible, if not likely, that voters would accept reality in greater numbers as post-election drama faded from view.

Except, that's not happening -- in part because the post-election drama hasn't faded from view. Donald Trump continues to lie, on a nearly daily basis, about his defeat, and much of his party plays along. Rank-and-file Republican voters don't know they're being deceived, and the result is widespread confusion about reality.

The New Yorker's Susan Glasser recently noted in response to similar polling, "This is a big red flashing light of trouble for American democracy." I continue to think that's true in part because of the challenges associated with a major political party living in a weird fantasyland, but also because of the degree to which the GOP's alternate reality can be weaponized.

Look no further than the utterly bonkers Arizona "audit" and the speed with which it's spreading to other states -- a problem made possible by such widespread embrace of obvious nonsense.