Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
A new Daily Kos/Civiqs poll confirms that a large majority of Americans accept and acknowledge the outcome of the 2020 presidential election: President-elect Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump. But among people who watch Fox News — which has waged a relentless public campaign to fan doubts about the election, seemingly because the network is afraid of angering Trump and losing its viewer base of his supporters — rejecting the election's result continues to be the norm.
The new poll asked, "Do you accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election: Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump?" The overall result was that 58 percent accepted the outcome against 33 percent who still did not.
These numbers are consistent with a Monmouth University poll from three weeks ago, which found that 60 percent of American adults said Biden won "fair and square," compared to only 32 percent who said that Biden won because of alleged voter fraud. But the poll found that among Trump's supporters, 77 percent said "Biden's win was due to fraud," with the director of Monmouth's polling noting, "The anger among Trump's base is tied to a belief that the election was stolen."
The Daily Kos/Civiqs poll gets at an additional angle of this attitude among right-wing media audiences: Among those who watch Fox News "frequently," only 18 percent said they accepted the outcome, versus 63 percent who did not. Among those who watch Fox "occasionally," it was a statistical dead heat, with 43 percent of such viewers accepting Biden's win compared to 44 percent who did not. (Overall, eight percent of respondents said they frequently watch Fox, and 29 percent said they watch it occasionally.)
Meanwhile, people who said they don't watch Fox News were found to have accepted the election outcome by a margin of 70 percent to 24 percent.
Fox News has been at the forefront of Trump's effort to overturn the election results, taking a leading position among other right-wing media outlets. In just the first two weeks after the election, the network pushed conspiracy theories or cast doubt on the election results nearly 600 times. All told, the network has spread various debunked stories about alleged election rigging — while also downplaying Republican attempts to throw out entire swaths of legitimate votes, inciting potential civil unrest, and insisting that Trump really did win the election.
Even Fox's purported "straight news" coverage has hyped Trump's public campaign against the election results, offering public support to his efforts, downplaying his lies, and being nearly indistinguishable from the network's avowed opinion hosts in continuing to spread debunked stories about alleged voting misconduct. Just this week, one of the network's "news-side" programs used the right-wing "#StopTheSteal" hashtag to promote an interview with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) on his efforts to have Congress block the election results.
And so the cycle continues: Fox viewers continue to doubt the legitimate outcome of the election in favor of conspiracy theories and false claims of voter fraud — and the network continues to push these baseless pro-Trump narratives every day, contributing to its viewers' disbelief and defiance over Biden's victory.