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Poll: Most GOP voters still reject legitimacy of Biden's presidency

The good news: the number of GOP voters accepting the legitimacy of Biden's presidency is growing. The bad news: it's not growing much.
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

There's plenty to chew on in the latest national poll from Monmouth University, but I think NBC News flagged the most interesting takeaway.

Almost two-thirds of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election, even as more than six-in-ten Americans overall believe he won fair and square, according to a new Monmouth University poll. The survey, conducted February 25 – March 1, found that 65 percent of Republicans believe that Biden's win was solely the result of voter fraud. What's more, 29 percent of Republicans say they will never accept Biden as president.

The numbers are a striking reminder about the extent to which the Republican discourse has been poisoned. It'd be merely discouraging if, say, a tenth of GOP voters stubbornly refused to accept the legitimacy of Biden's presidency. But if the survey data is correct, the actual number is roughly two-thirds of rank-and-file Republicans who've been persuaded to believe demonstrable nonsense.

Reviewing the Monmouth data, I became curious about the trend line: is the number of GOP voters accepting electoral reality improving at all? The answer is yes, but only a little.

In November, shortly after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 race, Monmouth found that 70% of Republicans believed the Democrat had won due to fraud, and that the race wasn't "fair and square." Two months later, in January, that number ticked up to 72% of Republicans.

My hope at the time was that this was more 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.

And while I think we're seeing some of this now, and the number of Republicans acknowledging the legitimacy of Biden's presidency may yet improve a bit more, it's hard not to notice just how little progress there's been.

The nation's new president is eager to help bring as many Americans as possible together with a sense of common purpose. That challenge becomes all the more daunting when 65% of Republicans voters won't let go of the Big Lie, reality be damned.

It's even more difficult still when his predecessor maintains the fiction that he won the race he lost, and tells his followers that the nation's judiciary is worthy of condemnation because judges lacked the "courage to overturn elections."