Only 20% of the public says it’s very confident in the country’s elections.
America’s faith in the integrity of the election system remains shaken by the events of Jan. 6, with only 20% of the public saying it’s very confident about the system, a new ABC/Ipsos poll finds. This is a significant drop from 37% in an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in the days after the insurrection last year.
The lack of strong confidence in the country’s ability to conduct an honest election crosses partisan lines. Among Democrats, whose party leaders have been struggling to legislatively protect what they believe to be deteriorating voting rights across the country, 30% say they are very confident in the U.S. election systems overall. Regarding independents, only 1 in 5 consider themselves “very confident” in the nation’s elections.
Even fewer Republicans (13%) are very confident, with a considerable majority (59%) having little faith in the system, responding that they either are “not so confident” or “not confident at all,” a snapshot of growing skepticism a year after the harrowing attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The ABC/Ipsos poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, also found that when asked to mention one word to describe what happened on Jan. 6, an overwhelming majority of Americans (68%) responded with a critical description. In fact, only one of the top 10 one-word responses suggest sympathy toward the events. That term, “setup,” was the eighth-most frequent response. Overall, the top five words used to describe Jan. 6 were insurrection, treason, riot, chaos and disgust.
And while earlier data reported by ABC/Ipsos found that large shares of Republicans felt that Joe Biden’s election was not legitimate alongside feelings that those present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 may have been attempting to protect democracy, rather than threaten it, GOP respondents also communicated very few warm feelings about the riots themselves when asked what word comes to mind to describe what happened that day.
The most frequently used one-word responses among Republicans were critical, with “chaos,” “disgust,” “disgrace” and “crazy” as top terms. Democrats’ language was far more dire, with the lion’s share choosing the term “insurrection,” “treason” and “terrorism.”
Among the very few sympathetic terms regarding the Jan. 6 attacks were “fake,” “protest” and “setup.” Less than 2% of respondents mentioned these.
The ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted after a discordant year packed with both news and noise, with some part of that being former President Donald Trump’s continuous false claim that the November general election was stolen from him. Other close allies in his party, like Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, have parroted this falsehood at a national level.
While the attempt to siege the Capitol on Jan. 6. was foiled, the attack — and the subsequent attempt to recast the narrative in the intervening months — did not come without consequences, according to political scientist William Howell.
“Widespread distrust in our electoral system overlays deep divisions over our democracy. Republicans lack confidence, in no small part, because of lies propagated by their leaders. And Democrats lack confidence because of ongoing efforts of Republicans to politicize the administration of elections. This is a bad equilibrium,” Howell, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, said in a statement to ABC News.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs’ KnowledgePanel® Dec. 27 to 29, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 982 adults with oversamples of Black and Hispanic respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 29-25-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.
ABC News’ Dan Merkle and Ken Goldstein contributed to this report.