Voters from both parties are less likely to accept the result of a small defeat than a large one

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
November 04, 2020, 1:10 PM UTC

With initial election results now counted, it looks like the Electoral College vote will be more closely split than many predicted. President Trump has already attempted to claim victory, although the actual result of the election could yet take weeks to confirm.

Although they may yet emerge victorious, many Democrats will be disappointed that the emphatic Biden victory they hoped for has not materialised. This is not simply because people like big victories - many fear that attempts to cast doubt on the result of the election will appear more plausible if the result is close.

The results of a Washington Examiner / YouGov poll, conducted prior to the election, shows there is credibility to these concerns. The data shows that voters were more likely to say they would accept defeat by a large margin than by a small margin.

Among voters for both parties, 63% said they were either "very" or "somewhat" likely to accept the result if their preferred candidate lost by a large margin. Nevertheless, around one quarter from both parties (25% of Democrats and 28% of Republicans) said they would be "not very likely" or "not at all likely" to accept such a result.

When it comes to a narrow defeat, voters were more reluctant to accept the result. Only half (49%) of Democrats said they would, and even fewer Republicans said they would do so (42%). Almost half of Republicans (49%) say they wouldn't be likely to accept such a result, nor would 39% of Democrats.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Washington Examiner/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: YouGov polled 1,200 registered voters on October 30 between 4:45 p.m. and 7:49 p.m. EST. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted on age, gender, education level, political affiliation and ethnicity to be nationally representative of adults in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 3.8% for the overall sample.