Fewer than half of West Virginians believe the 2020 presidential election was legitimate and accurate.
That’s according to the latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll, which surveyed 400 registered voters August 20-25.
Forty-four percent of respondents said the election result was determined legitimately.
Forty-three percent said the result was the result of voting fraud and election rigging.
And 14 percent said they aren’t sure.
“Talk about a divided point of view. You see that here,” said Rex Repass, president of Research America, which conducts the West Virginia Poll.
He said that reflects, “very strong opinions influenced by politically-hot rhetoric, and West Virginians are split right down the middle over whether we had a fair election in 2020.”
In the weeks following the 2020 election, at least 63 lawsuits contesting election processes, vote counting and the vote certification process in multiple states were knocked down by the courts.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election’s outcome.
Former President Trump and his allies have continued insisting the election was stolen.
Support for Trump and interpretations of the presidential election fallout are a major aspect of West Virginia political views, said Marshall University political science professor Marybeth Beller. The poll showed that 93 percent of those who view the election as fraudulent also say the nation is on the wrong track.
“We have a lot of Trump supporters in the state. President Trump has continued to maintain that the election was rigged despite all evidence to the contrary, and so a lot of those people are misinformed and actually believe that President Biden should not have been elected president,” Beller said.
“So if you are of that mindset and have a belief that something was going wrong with the very foundations of our country, it only follows that you’re going to be very displeased with what any administration is doing. I think that’s just the logical flow, but it’s based on a false premise and that’s what we have to keep in mind.”
The polling on the election legitimacy issue showed responses were sharply divided along partisan lines.
The poll showed that 71 percent of Democrats viewed the election results as legitimate and accurate.
But only 21 percent of Republicans see the election as legitimate. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans say it was not.
Independents were split with 36 percent calling the election legitimate, 44 percent concluding it was not, and 20 percent saying they are uncertain.
“This poll provides excellent if disturbing insight, as to how wild conspiracies cast over the results of the 2020 election have created permanent doubt and mistrust in our systems,” said Amanda Carpenter, a West Virginia resident who is director of the national organization Republicans for Voting Rights.
“Thankfully, West Virginia has a strong tradition of holding safe, secure, and reliable elections, and leaders across the country would be wise to examine what works so well here.”
A Monmouth Poll from June showed that 32 percent of Americans continue to believe Joe Biden’s 2020 victory was because of voter fraud. Between 60 and 70 percent of Republicans nationally believe Biden won because of voter fraud, according to polling over a period of months.
Fourteen percent of the American public said they will never accept Biden as president, according to the Monmouth Poll.
Trump remains very popular in West Virginia. He carried the state in the 2020 presidential election with 68.62 percent of the vote. That made West Virginia his second strongest state, behind only Wyoming.
Recent polling showed 55 percent of West Virginia respondents view Trump favorably and 40 percent view him unfavorably.
“There’s no question that if you look at his strength of support, the core of his support is very difficult to penetrate, and it’s still there,” Repass said.
Another question in the poll showed that most West Virginians do not hold Trump responsible for the mob at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Asked about the former president’s degree of responsibility, 16 percent said “not too much” and 35 percent said not at all responsible. So that’s 51 percent generally absolving him.
Twenty-five percent said Trump bears a great deal of responsibility and 21 percent said “a fair amount,” amounting to 46 percent who said the former president has some degree of culpability.
The responses were sharply divided along partisan lines. Seventy-four percent of Republicans absolved the former president and 73 percent of Democrats said he deserves blame.
There was also a gender difference, with 48 percent of female respondents saying Trump bears responsibility and 54 percent of male respondents saying he does not.
The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.
“We see West Virginians saying I don’t put much or no blame on President Trump for the riots, the storming of the Capitol that took place on Jan. 6,” Repass said.
Meanwhile, in a federal court filing Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice warned that “The ongoing threat to the U.S. Capitol is not hypothetical,” pointing to a large-scale rally set for Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C., by a group “promoting the idea that the hundreds of people charged in the January 6 insurrection are political prisoners.”