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A majority of Republican respondents in a recent poll wrongly believe that the so-called “audit” of the 2020 election in Maricopa county definitely or probably found evidence of fraud.
Monmouth University polled 811 people across the United States earlier this month, asking a series of questions about the state of the country, the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, government regulation of Facebook and fraud allegations surrounding the 2020 election. The poll included a question about the election review in Maricopa County.
According to the live-caller poll, 62% of Republicans falsely believed the “audit” discovered fraud — 32% of Republican respondents said the audit found evidence, and another 30% aren’t sure but believe it probably found such evidence. Only 23% of Republicans said the audit found that President Joe Biden won or probably won the state fairly.
By contrast, 89% of Democrats said Biden won the state fairly, while 55% of independents say Biden won fairly and 27% said the audit uncovered fraud. In total, 57% said the audit showed that Biden fairly won Arizona, while 29% said it found or probably found fraud in the 2020 election.
The “audit” that Senate President Karen Fann ordered of the election affirmed that President Joe Biden won Arizona and found no evidence of fraud or rigging. The team that Fann hired to conduct the “audit,” which had no qualifications to review an election and was led by people who openly believe false claims that the election was rigged against Donald Trump, presented a number of issues it considered potentially suspicious. But the team acknowledged that there might be legitimate explanations for those alleged issues.
Maricopa County officials denied the allegations and provided explanations for many of the issues the audit team raised. The county, the Arizona Mirror and others have proven some, such as claims surrounding signature verification on early ballot affidavits, to be false.
The partisan split among respondents on the audit question largely mirrored attitudes toward the bogus election fraud allegations that Trump and many of his supporters have spread since Biden defeated him last year. While 73% of Republicans told the pollster that Biden won through fraud and only 22% say he won fairly, 97% of Democrats and 63% of independents said Biden’s victory was legitimate. In all, 32% of respondents said Biden won through voter fraud.
A majority of all respondents, 60%, said they would approve of the committee that the U.S. House of Representatives formed to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol expanding its inquiry to probe possible fraud in the 2020 election. That included not only 70% of Republicans and 64% of independents, but 47% of Democrats.
Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said Democratic support for such an investigation likely stems from a hope that it would refute claims of fraud.
“But as the experience from the so-called Arizona ‘audit’ shows, that outcome is highly unlikely and America will remain divided on this,” Murray said.
Monmouth found that 30% of respondents said America’s system of government is “not sound at all” and needs “significant changes,” an increase from the 22% who said the same in a January poll. Murray blamed the continued proliferation of bogus election rigging claims for that trend.
“The increase of distrust in the American system appears to be linked to the persistence of ‘the big lie.’ The fact that this belief continues to get oxygen is having a serious, and potentially dangerous, impact on faith in our fundamental democratic processes,” Murray said.
During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, expressed concerns about the staying power of the false election fraud claims, which he said have created a “toxic environment” for Republican voters who have lost faith in elections.
Becker said it’s impossible to overstate the danger the U.S. is in due to pervasive belief in bogus election fraud claims, comparing it to the circumstances that sparked the Civil War in 1861. He noted that Trump and many of the people around him sought for loopholes that would have allowed them to overturn last year’s presidential election results.
“People who have that kind of impulse, who have lost any kind of sense of principles or norms, who are willing to defy the will of the people in a democratic society to install a leader they prefer, where does that naturally go?” he asked.
Becker also singled out the “audit” for criticism, saying the results will likely ensure that few states follow suit.
“Not only did that fail miserably and it had no methodology and it had no transparency. But even then, after months, that … so-called audit could not manufacture enough evidence of fraud to cast any doubt on the outcome, and it even concluded that the outcome was correct,” he said.
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