Most Republican voters in Georgia polled by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution say they still believe the 2020 presidential election was tainted by large-scale fraud — despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
The poll of likely Republican Party primary voters shows that 61% of respondents said there was widespread fraud in the last presidential election, a distrust that has persisted for nearly three years as another race looms.
Though many GOP voters retain their unproven suspicions about the 2020 election, they haven’t turned against Georgia Republican leaders who rejected Donald Trump’s unfounded claims.
Gov. Brian Kemp, who refused Trump’s call for a special legislative session to question the election results, achieved an 80% approval rating. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a major Trump supporter, won approval from 44% of poll respondents, with 45% undecided.
And a plurality of Republicans, 49%, approve of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger even though he resisted Trump’s demand that he “find” enough votes to reverse the results. About 23% were undecided on Raffensperger.
Three vote counts and dozens of investigations upheld the results of the 2020 election, which Democrat Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes in Georgia. Investigations debunked claims of double-counting by poll workers, ballot stuffing, counterfeit ballots and dead voters.
Trump is now facing four indictments as he’s running for reelection, including racketeering charges in Fulton County against the former president and 18 other defendants.
Voters who took the poll said in interviews that they want to move past 2020 and focus on supporting their party’s candidates next year.
“At this point, it’s over, and we should look to the future before our country goes down the drain,” said Clare Stinespring, a physical therapist from Cleveland who prefers Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in next year’s presidential race. “If there was anything wrong, correct the mistakes that were made and ensure a secure and accurate election in the future.”
Another voter, Allen McLeroy of Sky Valley, said he doesn’t believe so many people actually voted for Biden. He said he would vote for Trump again even if the former president were convicted and imprisoned before the election.
“I don’t believe it was fair (in 2020). That’s just my opinion. Other than that, I don’t have any evidence,” said McLeroy, a retired federal government employee. “I think it was a stolen election, but I don’t dwell on it. Let’s do what we need to do and put Donald Trump back in office.”
The poll of 807 likely GOP voters was conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs from Aug. 16 to 23, soon after Trump and 18 other people were indicted in Fulton County. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.
Republicans who participated in the poll indicated some worries that criminal charges against Trump could weaken their party’s chances of winning the White House.
A minority of those surveyed, 35%, said they were concerned that indictments would make Trump a weaker candidate against Biden in 2024, and 37% said they wouldn’t vote for a candidate who had been convicted of a felony by a jury.
“DeSantis doesn’t have all the baggage of four indictments going on in election season. Trump’s already got a burnt name with half the electorate,” said Anderson Lee, who works in truck maintenance in Cataula. “I like the guy and I’ll vote for him if he’s the candidate, but in the general election, someone else might perform better.”
Darlene Turner, a taxi driver from Dallas, backs Trump and other Republican candidates based on their conservative record and issues, rather than their statements on election fraud.
“I think we need to stop talking about (fraud) and move on,” Turner said. “You can’t change what already happened, so just drop it. Why keep bringing it up?”
The rate of Republicans who say there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election has gradually decreased over time, dropping 15 points from a high of 76% in an AJC poll in January 2021.
Meanwhile, voter confidence has steadily risen as Republican have won other elections.
About 73% of all registered voters who responded to an AJC poll in January said they were very confident or somewhat confident that last year’s general election was conducted fairly and accurately, including 59% of Republicans. The fact that the GOP won almost every statewide race may have contributed to renewed confidence in elections from Republicans.
That was an increase from 56% of Georgia voters who expressed confidence in elections in January 2022.