Oct 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

50% of Americans expect to know who won within a day or two of Election Day

Illustration of a check mark being studied and measured by a variety of hands
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

82% of voters from both parties say it is at least somewhat important to know who won the presidential election within a day or two of Election Day, yet only half expressed confidence that this will happen, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Why it matters: The 2020 election is expected to set records for the number of mail-in ballots cast due to the pandemic. Depending on the margins in key swing states, it's possible that the winner of the election will not be known until mail-in ballots are counted.

By the numbers: About twice as many Republicans (50%) are likely to vote in person compared to Democrats (20%).

  • 90% of registered voters expressed confidence that elections in their community will be administered well, but just 62% said the same about the administration of the election in the U.S. as a whole. This is a steep drop from the primaries, in which 81% of voters expected elections in the U.S. to be run and administered well.
  • 76% of Biden supporters are confident that the country will know the clear winner of the election even after all the votes are counted, while a much smaller majority of Trump supporters (55%) are confident that Americans will clearly know who won.
  • While a large majority of Trump (91%) and Biden supporters (70%) are confident that in-person voting places will be run safely, only 17% of Biden supporters are very confident that COVID-19 will not be spread by in-person voting.
  • 51% of Biden supporters say they plan to vote by absentee or mail-in ballot, while only 25% of Trump supporters plan to do the same.
  • Similar percentages of Trump and Biden supporters (20% and 22%, respectively) plan to vote, or have voted, in person before Election Day.
  • Overall, 56% of voters say they are very or somewhat confident that election systems in the U.S. are secure from hacking and other technological threats. That is higher than the share of voters who said the same two years ago (47%).

Methodology: For this analysis, Pew surveyed 11,929 U.S. adults, including 10,543 registered voters, between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5.

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