The continuing campaign message from Donald Trump that the General Election will somehow be rigged against him may be hitting its mark as a new poll shows 41 percent of those surveyed believe November's election could be "stolen" from the Republican nominee.
According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted Oct. 13-17, nearly three-fourths of the Republicans polled said they think it is a real possibility the election could be taken from Trump. Seventeen percent of the Democrats surveyed in the poll agreed. The poll was conducted among 1,999 registered voters.
Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, told Politico that Trump supporters feel a very real lack of confidence in the country’s voting system.
“The results show that voters are increasingly losing confidence that votes around the country will be counted accurately on Election Day," Dropp said. "The sentiment especially rings true among Trump's supporters, with half expressing concern about a 'rigged election.'"
Half of the respondents in an Associated Press poll – those who favored Donald Trump over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton -- say they have little to no confidence that votes will be counted fairly.
Trump ramped up his assault on Clinton, the media and the integrity of the vote-counting system over the weekend, tweeting Saturday: "Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election."
It is not a new theme for Trump, who in August told a crowd of supporters in Pennsylvania that he would only lose the state "if cheating goes on."
Many people both in and out of the Republican Party have expressed concern over Trump’s claims of a rigged process, as they have struck a chord with a growing number of his supporters. Nearly 60 percent of those polled in the Politico survey said they believe it's necessary to raise questions about the accuracy of the election results.
They cited voter fraud or involvement by a foreign government as the basis for their concerns.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, at first this weekend tried to walk back some of Trump’s remarks, saying the Republican Party would accept the results of the Nov. 8 election as the will of the people.
However, on Monday Pence’s position changed a bit when he said the national media is trying to rig the election for Clinton.
"I have no doubt the national media is trying to rig this election with their biased coverage in Hillary Clinton’s favor,” Pence said said.
Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
Trump has doubled down on critics, especially fellow Republicans, claiming they are naïve for ignoring “large-scale voter fraud.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisc.), has been a vocal opponent of Trump’s claims that voter fraud is rampant in America. A spokesman for Ryan issued a statement Saturday saying, “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”
The Democrats have a corrupt political machine pushing crooked Hillary Clinton. We have Paul Ryan, always fighting the Republican nominee!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
Trump does have some supporters, though they may not be as full-throated as the candidate would wish they were.
Rep. Pete King, (R-N.Y.), agreed with Trump that a close look at how votes are counted is needed, but stopped short of saying the election would be rigged.
"Is it legally rigged? No it's not. Whoever wins, wins,” King told radio host Don Imus, “But, I do think there's a lot to what he's saying, whether it's conscious or not, of having people in the so-called establishment, whatever that is, the big money people, the media, the political leaders, they are petrified of the thought of Trump being elected. So they consciously and unconsciously just do everything they can."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), told CNN on Monday that while he agrees somewhat with Trump, he does not believe there is a conspiracy to keep the GOP candidate from winning the election.
“… I don't want to say anything on this program that delegitimizes the elections because I don't want the American people to lose faith in our process. If we do, this entire constitutional republic could come tumbling down," King said. “We have a mainstream media that there's plenty of evidence to point to that they have been tilted in favor of Hillary Clinton, by and large. We have evidence out there that illegals have been voting by the hundreds, if not the thousands. It only took 537 in Florida. Those are things that do concern me.”
A Los Angeles Times story pointed out that presidential elections are carried out on a state level, not a national one, and that a majority of the states seen as “swing” states have a Republican overseeing the ballot counting.
Jon A. Husted, the secretary of state of Ohio, said Monday it was “wrong and engaging in irresponsible rhetoric” to question the integrity of the vote counting.
“We have made it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Husted said Sunday in an interview. “We are going to run a good, clean election in Ohio, like we always do.”