Americans are Split on Election Fairness, Confidence in Voters to Make the Right Choice

Democrats and Independents are Less Likely to Trust Elections than Republicans

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Rachel Martin Senior Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, October 10, 2019 — The recent Ipsos poll, carried out in collaboration with C-SPAN, shows that Americans are split on feeling confident that the upcoming presidential election will be open and fair. Just over half of Americans (53%) report feeling confident, and 46% report little or no confidence. Confidence is higher among Republicans (72%), who currently hold the presidency, compared to 39% of Democrats and 55% of independents.

Republicans also report more optimism about the current state of elections in the country than their Democratic and independent counterparts. Half of Republicans (54%) say the government has done enough to protect elections from foreign interference, compared to a third of Americans overall (31%), and just 16% of Democrats. Republicans are also more likely to say that elections in the United States are usually fair (61% of Republicans, compared to 40% of Democrats and 52% of independents), and are less likely to agree that elections are rigged in favor of the rich and powerful (28% of Republicans, compared to 53% of Democrats, 50% of independents).

The problems that Americans see in the electoral system fall very much along party lines. Republicans are three times less likely than Democrats to say that voter discrimination is a problem in the United States (24% vs. 72%), and almost twice as likely to say that in-person voter fraud is a problem (44% of Republicans, 26% of Democrats). However, about half of all Americans (55%), regardless of party affiliation, disagree that states and localities with a history of voter discrimination should be allowed to decide their own voting processes, rather than having federal government oversight.

With regards to electoral reforms, most Americans (60%) support amending the Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a system that would give the presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes. This is especially true of Democrats, where 8 in 10 (84%) support this change. Support for requiring candidates to show their tax returns to appear on the ballot is favored by about half of all Americans (53%), three-quarters of Democrats (75%), and one quarter of Republicans (26%).

About the Study

This CSPAN/Ipsos Poll was conducted September 23 to 30, 2019 by Ipsos Public Affairs KnowledgePanel® – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally-representative probability sample of 1,039 general population adults age 18 or older.

The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, which is the largest and most well-established online panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in these households are invited to join and participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®. For those potential panel members who do not already have internet access, Ipsos provides a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methods, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and provide fully representative online samples to the research community.

The study was conducted in both English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race, education, Census region by metropolitan status, household income, language proficiency, and party identification. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2018 March supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS). Party ID benchmarks are set to correspond with the trends found in the ABC News/Washington Post telephone poll.

The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male/Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White/Non-Hispanic, Black/Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races/Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (Less than High School, High School graduate, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West) by Metropolitan Status (Metro, Non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Language Proficiency (English Proficient Hispanic, Bilingual Hispanic, Spanish Proficient Hispanic, Non-Hispanic)
  • Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Other/None/Refused)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.26. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Rachel Martin Senior Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs