This is the stage of hysterical post-election Democratic butthurt where Don Corleone finally slaps Johnny Fontane in the face. You can act like a man.
But don’t laugh too hard. Given how predisposed Trumpers were to believe that the election would be rigged, we’d probably be on Day 10 of Trump’s “Hillary cheated” media tour right now if Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had ended up tipping the other way.
Interestingly, when you ask a similar question — “Will you accept Donald Trump as the legitimate president, or not?” — the numbers are similar for some groups but … not so similar for others. Republicans, for instance, split 97/3 on whether the election was fair or rigged and 97/2 on whether they’ll accept Trump as legitimate or not. For independents, though, there’s a discrepancy. They split 82/18 on the “rigged” question but just 71/12 on the “legitimate” one, with another 17 percent saying they’re not sure. The discrepancy is bigger for Dems, who divide 58/42 on “fair or rigged?” and very narrowly at 43/40 on Trump’s legitimacy, again with 17 percent unsure. Why are the numbers so different?
The answer lies in this post, I think. Different people define “legitimacy” in different ways. For some legitimacy is a straightforward question about whether the process was fair; for others it incorporates a judgment of whether the winner is fit for office or not; for others it may be a reaction to a sense that Comey and the FBI played dirty pool in their eleventh-hour email revelations; and for others (and I think this is the key distinction) a fully “legitimate” leader needs to win the electoral college and the popular vote. Otherwise he can’t properly claim the consent of the governed, or so the logic goes. Speaking of which:
The eye-popping (but unsurprising under the circumstances) number is that fully two-thirds of Democrats are now onboard with scrapping the electoral college. But note that there’s respectable support for the idea among indies too, with a narrow plurality in favor. The left has been so thoroughly devastated at the state level in the age of Obama that there’s no need to worry right now about them trying to change the system, but winning the popular vote while losing the presidency twice in 16 years will stick in their craw. Ten blue states plus Washington D.C., collectively worth 165 electoral votes, have already agreed to a scheme that would award their electors to the popular-vote winner if enough other states agree to do the same to ensure 270 EVs for that person. Democrats have already picked the low-hanging fruit in convincing various legislatures (California, New York, etc) to adopt that plan and now need to convince some larger swing states that are rich in electoral votes to join the compact too — which will be difficult, since deciding the presidency according to the national popular vote would dilute a swing state’s influence over the election. But if public opinion changes enough and Democrats make a comeback in state legislatures, and they will in time, this is something to watch. It will not be lost on them going forward that, if not for the electoral college, they never would have spent a day being governed by George W. Bush or Donald Trump, their two least favorite Republicans of the modern age.
Back to the legitimacy question. HuffPo notes correctly, and without a firm explanation for why, that polls last week showed fewer Dems (23 percent or 33 percent, depending on the survey) saying they saw Trump’s win as illegitimate as say so here in YouGov’s numbers. That could be a methodological quirk, as YouGov used an anonymous online survey while the other polls involved live phone interviews, but it may be that the protests of the last 10 days plus unflattering coverage of elements of Trump’s transition is solidifying Democratic opposition. It’s got to be true that some low-information Dems out there didn’t know what to make of Trump’s win in the first day or two afterward and now the cascade of THIS IS A CATASTROPHE signals coming from people and media they trust has tilted them. Here’s what happened, for example, when YouGov asked people if they’re optimistic about four years under Trump:
To put that 40/35 number in context for you, 58 percent of the public said they were optimistic after Obama won in 2012, 71 percent said they felt that way after his 2008 win, and 60 percent said so after Dubya’s contentious victory in 2000. Trump’s way off the pace. Maybe that’s a reflection of the low confidence in him personally or maybe it’s a byproduct of an increasingly hyperpolarized age, but it is what it is.
One last quirk about the numbers above. When ABC/WaPo asked Hillary voters last week if they view Trump’s win as legitimate or not, there was a huge divide between whites and nonwhites. Just 18 percent of whites said it was illegitimate versus 51 percent(!) of nonwhites who said so. I took that to be evidence of varying sensitivity, even on the left, to “voter suppression” measures. In YouGov’s poll, though, the racial numbers are more complicated. Democrats generally are actually less likely to see Trump as legitimate than blacks are: Blacks split 45/32 while Dems split 43/40. Even if you account for the fact that some blacks voted for Trump, you would think per the ABC/WaPo data about nonwhites that blacks overall would skew heavily towards seeing Trump as illegitimate. On the other hand, when you ask whether the vote was “rigged” or not, blacks are more likely to say yes than Dems overall are. They split 53/47 while Democrats generally split 58/42. Maybe that’s where the racial difference on “voter suppression” is showing up.