A majority of Americans believe that Trump should concede the election once all avenues of appeal are exhausted, a new poll states, and many are fearful that his refusal to do so may spark protests and a potential civil unrest.
Conducted by public opinion researcher Maru/Blue, the poll surveyed 1,506 Americans and found that 78 per cent of Americans believe that if the Electoral College formally declares Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 U.S. election, Trump should accept his defeat and begin a peaceful transition of power to the Biden transition team.
That’s not to say that the same majority of people unhesitatingly support Biden’s claim to the Oval Office. In fact 54 per cent of Americans polled believe that voter fraud has taken place during the election, with 17 per cent of those polled believing that it might have happened within their own communities.
It comes down to the process by which the election is assessed, according to John Wright, Maru/Blue vice-president.
“It’s one thing to expunge a president, it’s harder to expunge the taint of a potential fraudulent election,” he told the National Post.
The president, he said, is within his rights to assert that the election cannot be called until Dec. 14 — when the members of the electoral college body meet — and that between now and then, he is allowed to pursue legal options to contest the results. And the public agrees with him.
However, should the Supreme Court declare the election results legitimate, 87 per cent of those surveyed believe that Trump should then “accept the decision, concede, and begin transition.
“The Americans are looking for an untainted referee,” Wright explained, that will lean on law and process to determine the outcome of what has been a particularly bitter and divisive presidential campaign.
That being said, 74 per cent of Americans polled believe that Trump will concede; Fifty-six percent of those polled believe that he may go so far as to defy a Supreme Court ruling in favour of Biden and refuse to begin transition.
“The reality is though, that they (Americans) don’t believe that he will step down,” Wright said. “So that leads to another dilemma.”
If Trump were to refuse to leave the White House, despite a Supreme Court ruling, he should be forcibly removed from office, 77 per cent of those surveyed say, although it is unclear what that would look like.
In fact, 23 per cent of Americans polled stated that Trump should be able to remain in office until he decides to vacate. This is Trump’s core group, Wright said, who are “totally with the president, come high or hell.”
But “even they believe that there is a process that should be followed,” Wright added.
The polarity around Trump’s future in the Oval Office has almost half of those polled fearing the possibility of violent protests within their own communities, while 52 per cent of those surveyed believe that the outcome could mean civil unrest, whether that be between groups, factions or even armed conflict.
The statistics paint an alarming picture of the future of the U.S., but Wright asserts that if there’s one thing most citizens are united on, it is their desire for democratic process.
The country “has not done away with its leader, it has dealt with it, and it is going to continue to deal with it the way it is set up (to)”, Wright said. “This is yet, its greatest test. And what the public seems to be doing is to want to follow that process.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020