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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Sam Levine

Six out of 10 South Carolina Republican primary voters think Biden wasn’t legitimately elected

'I Voted' signs on tables, with two people standing at a table
Residents vote on the day of the Republican primary in Cayce, South Carolina, on 24 February 2024. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

More than 60% of South Carolina Republican primary voters said they don’t believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected, according to exit polls, the latest data point that underscores how election denialism has become a mainstream belief in the Republican party.

Eighty-seven per cent of those who don’t believe the US president was legitimately elected supported Donald Trump, according to a CNN exit poll of South Carolina primary voters. Just 12% supported Nikki Haley. Among those who believe Biden legitimately won in 2020, the results were nearly flipped 81% supported Haley, while 19% supported the former president.

Several studies, investigations and audits have found no widespread fraud that affected the outcome of the 2020 election.

The results are consistent with exit polls of the Republican primary electorate in other states. A total of 51% of New Hampshire primary voters said Biden was not legitimately elected, according to a CNN exit poll during the primary last month. In Iowa, two-thirds of caucus-goers said Biden’s election was not legitimate.

A national January poll from USA Today/Suffolk University found two-thirds of those supporting Trump didn’t believe Biden was legitimately elected.

The polling comes as Trump has not backed an inch away from the lie that he won in 2020. Even though several studies and investigations have debunked Trump’s baseless claims of fraud, he has continued to warn about the possibility of fraud, potentially laying the groundwork to claim another stolen election in 2024. All of that rhetoric has helped somewhat normalize the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen.

South Carolina exit polls also further illustrate Trump’s continued political appeal despite the mounting criminal charges he has wracked up. Sixty-one per cent of primary voters said he was fit to serve as president, even if he was convicted of a crime. Ninety per cent of those who said he was fit supported Trump.

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