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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, left, fist bumps Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration ceremony at the Capitol on Jan 20, 2021.Kevin Dietsch / Pool via Getty Images

Polls: Most Republicans still don't see Biden's win as legitimate

As one observer put it, "This is a big red flashing light of trouble for American democracy."


There's quite a bit to mull over in the latest national CNN poll, but these were the results that struck me as the most striking.

Although there is no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the 2020 election, many still say that Biden did not legitimately win enough votes to become president. The poll suggests the share of Americans who believe that falsehood has held roughly steady since just before he took office in January at 30%. Those doubts are concentrated among Republicans, 70% of whom say they do not think Biden won enough votes to be president.

In other words, six months after Election Day 2020, and more than 100 days into Joe Biden's presidency, a leading national poll found that 7 in 10 Republican voters still question the legitimacy of the president's victory.

This is slightly worse than a recent Monmouth poll, which found 65% of GOP voters believe that Biden's win was solely the result of voter fraud.

What's more, the same CNN poll broke down that 70% figure a little further: 50% of Republican voters believe there's "solid evidence" that the president "did not legitimately win," while 20% said their beliefs are based on "suspicions."

Following up on our earlier coverage, my hope for months has been that reality would set in gradually over time. Sure, there were polls like these late last year, but it was hardly outlandish to think they were 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 that would ease as the nation's focus shifted to post-inaugural governance.

Except, that doesn't seem to be happening. Biden's immediate predecessor continues to pretend he won, and a ridiculously large percentage of Trump's party believes the nonsense.

The New Yorker's Susan Glasser noted in response to the latest polling data, "This is a big red flashing light of trouble for American democracy." I 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.

The more people can be conned into rejecting the legitimacy of Biden's presidency, the easier it becomes to rationalize a hopelessly bonkers election "audit" in Arizona -- which in turn helps lay the groundwork to attack election results elsewhere.