Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, seconds the objection to Arizona's Electoral College certification from the 2020 presidential election as a joint session of Congress convenes to confirm the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP) Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, seconds the objection to Arizona's Electoral College certification from the 2020 presidential election as a joint session of Congress convenes to confirm the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, seconds the objection to Arizona's Electoral College certification from the 2020 presidential election as a joint session of Congress convenes to confirm the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde January 6, 2021

Ted Cruz’s misleading statement on people who believe the election was ‘rigged’

If Your Time is short

  • Cruz’s claim is based on a specific poll and the total percentage of respondents in a survey who agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement: “I am concerned that the election is rigged.” 

  • But another question in the survey asked people more directly about their view of the election. The percentage of people who said the election outcome was “the result of illegal voting or election rigging” is much lower than the numbers Cruz cited.

As Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, challenged Arizona’s presidential election results on the Senate floor, he claimed that it’s not just Republicans who think the election was "rigged." A sizable percentage of independents and Democrats believed so, too, he claimed.

"Recent polling shows that 39% of Americans believe the election that just occurred was ‘rigged.’ You may not agree with that assessment, but it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country," said Cruz. "I would note it is not just Republicans who believe that. 31% of independents agree with that statement. 17% of Democrats believe the election was rigged."

President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. State election officials and courts have said that allegations from Trump and his allies about fraud in the election are meritless.

Congress met in a joint session Jan. 6 to affirm Biden’s victory and count the Electoral College votes, but broke into separate discussions in the House and Senate chambers to consider objections to the tally from Arizona. Cruz’s statement on the Senate floor came before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, forcing a halt to the constitutional procedure.

We checked Cruz’s claim about the percentages of people who believe the election was "rigged," and found it misleading.

Cruz made a similar claim in a Jan. 2 statement, citing Reuters/Ipsos polling.

Reuters/Ipsos poll results

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted between Nov. 13-17. The online survey included a sample of 1,346 American adults. The sample included 598 Democrats, 496 Republicans and 149 independents. (Some respondents did not identify as any of the three.)

The survey asked respondents to indicate: "how much you agree or disagree" with the statement: "I am concerned that the election is rigged." Here are the results:

All respondents:

  • Strongly agree: 22%
  • Somewhat agree: 17%
  • Somewhat disagree: 17%
  • Strongly disagree: 37%
  • Not sure: 7%

Independents:

  • Strongly agree: 14%
  • Somewhat agree: 17%
  • Somewhat disagree: 21%
  • Strongly disagree: 30%
  • Not sure: 17%

 

 

Democrats:

Featured Fact-check

  • Strongly agree: 7%
  • Somewhat agree: 10%
  • Somewhat disagree: 18%
  • Strongly disagree: 62%
  • Not sure: 3%

Cruz's office said he arrived at the figures in his claim by adding the percentages for "strongly agree" and "somewhat agree."

But his overall claim is not the most accurate interpretation of the polling results, according to Ipsos.

"Our perspective is that question isn’t a definitive statement that the election was in fact rigged. For that, we use a separate question in the same survey," Chris Jackson, an Ipsos pollster, told PolitiFact.

The survey also asked: "What comes close to your view of the 2020 election?" The choices were "legitimate and accurate," "the result of illegal voting or election rigging," or "don’t know."

"The result of illegal voting or election rigging" was chosen by 28% all respondents, 20% of independents, and 6% of Democrats. Those figures are much lower than what Cruz cited.

For Cruz to back his point, the "more accurate number to cite" would be the lower percentages, Jackson said on Twitter.

"And of that 28%, the large, large majority (79%) are Republicans. The plurality get their news from Fox (31%), other sources (18%) or don't follow news (24%), suggesting belief in rigging is a bit circular," Jackson tweeted.

It’s also worth noting that the poll was done in mid-November, as legal challenges from Trump’s campaign were still ongoing.

Other polls about the election phrased their questions differently, but generally, they show that most Americans trusted the results and thought the 2020 election was free and fair. Republicans were less likely to trust the outcome. One poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute found that "confidence in the election’s fairness went up among both independents (from 56% to 69%) and Democrats (from 68% to 90%) pre-election to post-election."

Our ruling

Cruz said 39% of Americans, 31% of independents, and 17% of Democrats "believe the election was rigged."

Cruz’s office said his claim is based on a specific poll and the total percentage of respondents who "somewhat" or "strongly" agreed with the statement: "I am concerned that the election is rigged." That doesn’t necessarily mean they thought it was rigged.

Another question in the survey asked people more directly about their view of the election. The percentage of people who said the election was "the result of illegal voting or election rigging" was much lower than the numbers Cruz cited. Other polls show far greater confidence in the integrity of the election.

Cruz’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

UPDATE, Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m.: This fact-check was updated to incorporate the response from Cruz's office.

Our Sources

Twitter, @SenTedCruz tweet, Jan. 6, 2021

Twitter, @jcbjackson tweet, tweet, tweet, Jan. 6, 2021

Sen. Ted Cruz website, Joint Statement from Senators Cruz, Johnson, Lankford, Daines, Kennedy, Blackburn, Braun, Senators-Elect Lummis, Marshall, Hagerty, Tuberville, Jan. 2, 2021

Ipsos.com, Reuters/Ipsos poll results, released Nov. 18, 2020

Email interview, Chris Jackson, an Ipsos pollster, Jan. 6, 2021

NPR, Poll: Just A Quarter Of Republicans Accept Election Outcome, Dec. 9, 2020

Politico, Poll: 70 percent of Republicans don’t think the election was free and fair, Nov. 9, 2020

The Washington Post, Many Republicans believe the election was fixed. But that’s what losing partisans often think., Dec. 4, 2020

Monmouth University, More Americans Happy About Trump Loss Than Biden Win, Nov. 18, 2029

Pew Research Center, Sharp Divisions on Vote Counts, as Biden Gets High Marks for His Post-Election Conduct, Nov. 20, 2020

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Miriam Valverde

Ted Cruz’s misleading statement on people who believe the election was ‘rigged’

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up