Poll: College Students Lack Confidence in Legitimacy of 2020 Election

From a new Knight Foundation survey:

  • Students lack confidence in the legitimacy of the 2020 election. Nearly half (49%) say it won’t be fair and open, and a majority (55%) say it will not be administered well. A full 81% say special interest groups have more influence over election outcomes than voters.
  • Students are likely to doubt the results of the presidential election. Half say that problems at polling places such as long lines or broken voting machines would lead them to have major doubts about the fairness of the election; followed by evidence of foreign interference (48%); the election winner losing the popular vote (46%); and low voter turnout (46%) or if most voters cast ballots by mail (31%). 74% will have major or minor doubts about the fairness of the election if it takes weeks to count.
  • Students plan to vote for Joe Biden by a wide margin, but enthusiasm is low for both major candidates and their parties. A full 70% say they will vote for Biden, versus only 18% for President Trump. But only 49% have a favorable impression of Biden, versus 51% unfavorable; for Trump, those numbers are 19% and 81%, respectively. When it comes to the two major parties, male college students view both about equally negatively, while female students express much more positive views of the Democratic Party.
  • Just over half of college students plan to vote by mail, with large partisan splits. The majority (63%) of Democratic students say they would prefer to vote by mail or absentee, compared to 31% of Republican students. Thirty nine percent of all students plan to vote in person.
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