Although President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory and refused to concede the 2020 presidential election, Americans largely got the message that President-elect Joe Biden won and Trump lost, according to the final interviews of a polling project tracking how Americans followed news about the 2020 campaign.
This analysis of how Americans experienced the presidential campaign over the last few months comes from The Breakthrough, a survey from CNN, SSRS, the University of Michigan and Georgetown University tracking Americans’ recall of news about each of the presidential candidates.
The fielding period was from November 3-8, covering Election Night and the days that followed. While the period ended only a day after the race was called for Biden, significantly more respondents said Trump lost the election than those who said Biden lost.
Many Americans who referenced Trump winning the election were recalling the President’s claims that he won the election on Twitter and in a speech on November 4. One respondent said, “Trump falsely declares he’s won, but the reality is that millions of votes have to be counted.”
The top words mentioned for Trump and Biden this week were fairly similar, with one key difference. Biden’s top three words were “election,” “vote,” and “win.”
Trump’s were “election,” “vote,” and “lose.”
Slightly fewer Republicans than Democrats say Trump lost the election, though a majority of both groups reference Biden winning.
Another group of those talking about Trump’s “win” believe that he did win the election, either saying that he probably will win or that he actually had beaten Biden.
Respondents also mentioned hearing about Biden’s speech on November 3, referencing the word “united,” with unity as a big theme of the victory for the former vice president.
Many recalled news for both Trump and Biden on the vote count, discussing how states were still counting and the contentious subject of election legitimacy. Election legitimacy was the number one mentioned topic for both Trump and Biden the week following November 3, though with significantly more mentions for the current President than the President-elect.
Other recalled news for Trump centered around his calls of fraud, including him threatening to sue states, filing lawsuits, stop vote counting and bringing cases to the Supreme Court. Other respondents brought up concerns about Trump not leaving the White House.
Through the week, the references of Trump winning turned from those who legitimately thought he would win, based on early results which did not include a full count of absentee ballots in some key states, to those referencing his call to stop counting votes as the week went on.