Did President Trump concede in his Thursday night speech? Democrats aren't so certain

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
January 08, 2021, 8:10 PM UTC

On Thursday night, President Donald Trump posted a speech on Twitter where he addressed violence by his supporters at the US Capitol — during which the building was raided and at least five people died in protest of the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden's electoral college victory.  

There has been debate as to whether the president’s remarks constitute a concession. While many outlets have reported them as such, others have noted that President Trump did not explicitly acknowledge that President-Elect Biden had won the election. Rather, he remarked that, “Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.” 

This is potentially providing succor to some of the President’s most strident supporters, with reports that QAnon conspiracy theorists have noted the particular phrasing of Trump's remarks and are arguing he has not conceded. If the President’s speech was not meant as a concession, it leaves open the possibility that Trump will further dispute the election outcome between now and Inauguration Day. 

Shown a video of the speech, half (54%) of the 1,000 registered voters in a recent YouGov Direct poll believe that those remarks represent President Trump conceding the 2020 presidential election. By contrast, one-third (36%) believe he did not. 

Republicans who watched the video are particularly likely to have taken Trump’s words as a concession (68%), with only a quarter (25%) disagreeing. Democrats, by contrast, appear split on whether the outgoing president’s acknowledgement of a transition of power counts as a concession: 44% of Democrats say Trump conceded the election, but 45% say he did not.  

Four in five Republicans (82%) say President Trump’s speech — in which he said “to those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country” — was sincere. While one in nine (11%) Democrats also believe President Trump meant what he said, a majority (83%) call him insincere. Independents tend to believe he was more insincere (49%) than sincere (37%).

As President Trump enters the final two weeks of his presidency, voters believe his words were more unifying (49%) than divisive (31%). Republicans were overwhelmingly more likely to consider his speech unifying (85%) while Democrats were less certain: about one-quarter (22%) say it was unifying, while about half (52%) say it was not.   

See the toplines and crosstabs from this YouGov Poll 

Related: Most voters say the events at the US Capitol are a threat to democracy 

Methodology: YouGov polled 1,000 registered voters, all of whom watched the entirety of President Trump’s speech. The survey was conducted on January 8, 2021 between 11:16 a.m. and 12:19 p.m. Eastern time. 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.   

Image: Getty