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VoteCast: GOP voters in Georgia back Trump’s false claims

Josh Boak and Hannah Fingerhut
Associated Press

Washington – About three-quarters of voters who backed Republican candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoffs say President-elect Joe Biden was not legitimately elected in November, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters in Tuesday’s high-stakes Senate contests.

The poll of voters measured how deeply President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud and misconduct have resonated with Republicans in the state.

Debbie Epling, left, and Jean Calvert wave signs for their favorite candidates at the intersection Belair and Washington Roads during Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election in Evans, Ga., Tuesday morning, Jan. 5, 2021.

Despite the courts, state officials and the Justice Department finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud, roughly 9 in 10 of the Republicans’ backers said they lacked confidence that votes in November’s presidential contest were accurately counted. Half say they have no confidence at all in the vote count. That’s roughly five times as many voters in November who said they had no confidence that votes would be counted accurately.

AP VoteCast surveyed more than 3,600 voters in the runoff elections that will determine which party will control the U.S. Senate. The poll points to a partisan divide that has only worsened since November and suggests Biden may find it difficult to stitch the nation back together as it battles a resurgent pandemic and weakened economy.

While about 8 in 10 Republican voters approve of how Trump has handled the results of the election, Democratic voters almost universally disapprove. Most Democrats are very confident that votes were counted accurately.

If both Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win in Georgia, their party would hold half of the 100 Senate seats, with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. But if either Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue triumph, the GOP would have a slim Senate majority to challenge Biden and the Democrats running the House of Representatives.

About 6 in 10 Georgia voters said that control of the Senate was the single most important factor in their choice. However, Republican backers were more likely to prioritize holding a Senate majority than Democratic supporters.

With Biden winning Georgia by just 11,779 votes in November, the Senate races will likely be decided by turnout. Democratic areas performed strongly in early voting, suggesting that Republicans needed a strong showing of supporters to cast ballots Tuesday.

The Democratic get-out-the-vote operation appears to have been broader. About 6 in 10 Georgia voters said they were contacted on behalf of the Democratic candidates ahead of the election, compared to roughly half who were reached on behalf of the Republicans.

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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for Fox News and The Associated Press. The survey of 3,732 voters in Georgia was conducted for eight days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from the state voter file and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://www.ap.org/votecast.