74 Percent Call Election Legitimate, But With a Vast Partisan Divide: Poll

PHOTO: President-elect Donald Trump greets supporters during his election night rally in New York, Nov. 9, 2016. PlayMike Segar/Reuters
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Nearly three-quarters of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll accept Donald Trump’s election as legitimate -- but with a vast gap between his supporters and others that underscores the nation’s continued deep political divisions.

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Seventy-four percent in the national survey say Trump was legitimately elected, including 99 percent of his own supporters. Among others, much smaller majorities agree: Fifty-eight percent of Hillary Clinton’s supporters and 62 percent of those who didn’t support either candidate.

The 74 percent who see the outcome as legitimate is, overall, very near the 79 percent of likely voters who said in a pre-election ABC/Post poll that they were prepared to accept whatever result occurred. But there’s both a partisan flip and a far bigger gap in the new results.

Before the election, 87 percent of Clinton’s supporters and 68 percent of Trump’s said they were ready to accept the result as legitimate. (Trump himself suggested the election could be “rigged” and would not say whether he’d accept a Clinton victory.) Today, acceptance of the outcome as legitimate is 29 percentage points lower among Clinton supporters than they’d anticipated, and 31 points higher among Trump’s.

Perhaps reflecting the divided popular vote and electoral college results, a total of one in four Americans either don’t think Trump legitimately won (18 percent) or are unsure (an additional 8 percent). That includes 42 percent of Clinton’s supporters (a third of whom reject the outcome entirely) and 38 percent of those who didn’t support either candidate.

Further compunctions exist: While 58 percent overall feel “strongly” that the election was legitimate, 16 percent accept it less emphatically -- “somewhat.” On the flip side, 14 percent feel strongly that the Trump’s election victory was not legitimate.

Differences among groups largely reflect partisan preferences. Acceptance of the result as legitimate ranges from 93 percent of Republicans to 76 percent of independents and 61 percent of Democrats. It’s 81 percent among men vs. 67 percent among women. And it ranges by age from 69 percent of those younger than 40 to 80 percent among seniors.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone interviews Nov. 9-11, 2016, among a random national sample of 865 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, including the design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS of Media, Pa. See details on the survey’s methodology here.