Amid Trump attacks, Americans are less confident in vote count

Melanie Mason
President Donald Trump’s repeated — and baseless — insistence that widespread fraud undermined this month’s presidential election has left a mark on Americans’ faith in the voting process, a post-election USC Dornsife survey has found.
Using a 0-100 scale to measure their confidence that all ballots were tallied correctly, the average ranking from voters was a middling 58. Democrats gave higher marks – 79 – that the vote count was accurate, while Republicans, on the whole, rated their confidence in the election results’ accuracy at just 34.
“What’s really very clear is that the large group of voters who voted for Donald Trump in this election have absorbed the message that the vote may not have been completely, fairly counted,” said Jill Darling, the director of the USC Dornsife survey.
Democrats, she said, may have lost confidence because of concerns about voter suppression or problems with the US Postal Service. The final pre-election tracking poll estimated a national electoral outcome of Joe Biden with 53 per cent of the popular vote and Trump with 44 per cent. The actual results were a narrower spread: Biden with 51 per cent and Trump getting 47 per cent, with results still being tallied.
“Clearly, we were overestimating Biden a little bit and underestimating Trump by a little bit more,” Darling said. To explain the discrepancy, Darling said the USC team has begun to look into whether its probability questions, in which respondents ranked their answers on a scale of 0 to 100, did not work as well this election year or if it was missing any key population of voters.
The team’s analysis found that the survey did do a good job of predicting the overall likelihood of voting. It also found no evidence that people lied or were inconsistent in their responses. One possible reason for the polling miss could be the deep polarisation in the electorate. “We used to get a range of what people would say about their likelihood of voting for each candidate. This election, everyone was clustered at either 0 or 100 – yes or no,” Darling said.
“The question is: Is that just what the electorate looks like now or are people who are still making up making up their minds a missing piece of the puzzle?” Other factors that could account for the results could be that young respondents tended to overstate their likelihood of voting, some voters stopped participating for the duration of the tracking survey and people who decided their vote on the day of the election slightly favoured Trump. — dpa