Sep 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Most expect quick election results

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey of 1,100 U.S. adults, Aug. 28-31; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Axios/Ipsos survey of 1,100 U.S. adults, Aug. 28-31; Chart: Axios Visuals

One in three Americans thinks we'll know who won the presidential election on the night of Nov. 3, and six in 10 expect the winner to be announced within a couple of days, our new poll finds.

Why it matters: The gap between public expectations and what experts are warning — that it may take weeks — shows the risk of a national crisis over trust and acceptance of this year's results, whether President Trump wins a second term or Joe Biden unseats him.

  • The count is expected to take longer than normal in part because of the massive increase in demand for mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus.
  • Legal challenges, including attempts to have ballots rejected or restored, could add to delays.

By the numbers: 36% of respondents say they think the winner of the 2020 presidential election will be announced on election night.

  • Another 24% expect an announcement within one or two days.
  • 14% think we'll know in a week.
  • 13% say it could be a few weeks, while smaller groups of Americans predict it could take longer than that.

Between the lines: While so many opinions around the elections are heavily influenced by party ID, so far this question is not.

  • A slightly smaller share of Democrats than Republicans say we'll have same-night results (32% versus 37%). These's even less of a gap by party among those who say we'll know within a couple of days.
  • More Republicans than Democrats think it could take longer than a month, but the difference is just 5 percentage points.

What they're saying: "The time stamp is less of an issue than the legitimacy of the results," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "The real issue is, is the losing side going to think the other side's legitimate?"

  • "'We'll know when we know' is basically what they're saying," Young said of the current mindset — but that may change as reality sets in. "It hasn't been overly politicized yet."

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted August 28-31 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,100 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
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