The Democrats only have a US Senate majority because they were able to win two Senate runoffs in Georgia in January. Those Democratic wins were made possible by lower turnout among Republican-leaning voters, who may have been deterred from voting after then-President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the November 2020 election was fraudulent and that the runoffs were “illegal and invalid.”
But while believing Trump only lost because of fraud may have stopped people from turning out in early 2021, this belief looks to be correlated with a greater likelihood of voting in 2022.
We can already see Trump try to use this to his advantage down in Georgia. GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has a primary fight on his hands against David Perdue, the former senator who lost one of the runoffs earlier this year who has now been backed by Trump. The reason for the former President’s support: He felt Kemp didn’t do enough to overturn his loss in the state.
The voters who will likely be most attracted to Perdue’s candidacy and those like it are going to be those who are big fans of Trump and think incorrectly that he only lost in 2020 because of fraud. There are a lot of them, according to a WEBICNEWS/SSRS poll completed at the end of the summer.
By a 74%-to-25% margin, Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters (who we’ll call potential Republican primary voters) say that Biden didn’t win enough votes to win the 2020 election legitimately.
But it’s not just that there are a lot of them. They look to be the ones who are going to be the most likely to cast a ballot next year.
The margin grows to 86% to 13% that Biden didn’t win legitimately among potential Republican primary voters who are extremely enthusiastic about voting next year. Compare that to Republicans who are not enthusiastic about voting in 2022: They believe Biden didn’t win legitimately by a 62% to 38% margin.
Either way, there are a lot of Republicans who don’t think Biden won fairly in 2020.
Importantly, a lot of Republicans are going to prioritize their feelings about 2020 in how they vote in 2022. That is, it’s not likely going to be an afterthought when casting a ballot.
A majority (61%) of potential Republican primary voters say believing Trump won the 2020 election is important to what being a Republican means to them. Only 39% disagreed.
Again though, primaries are often about turnout. The potential Republican voters who are extremely enthusiastic about voting in 2022 say that believing Trump won is important to what being a Republican means to them by a 77% to 23% margin.
We shouldn’t be surprised when Republican primary challengers try to use these beliefs to their advantage. Perdue, for example, has already said he would not have certified the 2020 Georgia results.
Unfortunately for politicians like Kemp, potential Republican voters who are not enthusiastic about voting next year are far less likely to say that thinking Trump won is important to what being a Republican means. By a 58%-to-42% margin, these voters actually indicated that belief that Trump winning in 2020 was not important to the Republican identity.
These voters may want to stay home because they are disgusted with the entire political process. They’re not Democrats, and they’re not happy with the direction the Republican Party has taken.
Of course, the big prize in places like Georgia and throughout the country will be winning the general election.
Democrats were able to control the Senate because Georgia Republicans who thought Trump won stayed home earlier this year instead of voting.
This seems unlikely to happen in 2022.
Most voters (61% to 38%) in the WEBICNEWS/SSRS poll hold the belief that Biden’s win was legitimate. This makes the general electorate very much unlike the potential Republican primary electorate.
Now concentrate on those voters who are extremely enthusiastic about voting next year. This edge shrinks to just 52% to 47%, well within the subsample’s margin of error. It’s possible we could be looking at a voting electorate next year where half of those casting a ballot believe Biden didn’t win legitimately.
As to whether these voters are being motivated by what happened in 2020 is a little bit more difficult to say.
Still keep this in mind: most voters (59%) think democracy is under attack. These voters by a 55% to 38% margin favor the generic Republican congressional candidate in next year’s elections. (The generic Democratic congressional candidate had 45% to 44% for the generic Republican candidate among all voters.)
Among extremely enthusiastic voters, 77% believe democracy is under attack.
It’s not shocking that those who believe democracy is under attack would be the ones most enthusiastic about voting. Perhaps, it’s more surprising just how Republican leaning these voters are, given that Republicans are the ones who falsely believe Biden didn’t win legitimately.
Either way, these voters who think democracy is under attack may just give the Republicans the congressional majority next year.