The 2020 presidential election and beliefs about fraud: Continuity or change?

Adam M. Enders, Joseph Uscinski, Casey A Klofstad, Kamal Premaratne, Michelle I. Seelig, Stefan Wuchty, Manohar Murthi, John Funchion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 2020 presidential campaign was plagued by charges of voter fraud both before and after the election took place. While past literature finds that electoral losers are most likely to express misgivings about election integrity, little else is known about the characteristics of individuals who exhibit these beliefs or how the beliefs have changed over time. Employing national surveys from 2012, 2016, 2018, and 2020, we examine the levels of pre-election expectations of fraud in the event of an electoral loss over time, as well as the individual-level correlates of beliefs in a range of election-related conspiracy theories prominent in 2020. Our analysis reveals that beliefs in election fraud are common and stable across time, and only occasionally relate to partisanship. Moreover, we find that, even accounting for the influence of partisan motivated reasoning, several psychological orientations––conspiracy thinking, anomie, dark triad personality traits, and denialism––play a unique role in promoting perceptions of voter fraud.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102366
JournalElectoral Studies
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Conspiracy theories
  • Dark triad
  • Donald trump
  • Electoral fraud
  • Partisanship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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