By Maurice Tamman
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Trump has repeatedly called this year's presidential election rigged and has coyly said "I will keep you in suspense” on whether he would accept a Hillary Clinton victory, but many Republicans are less circumspect, according to a new poll.
Only half of Republicans would accept Clinton, the Democratic nominee, as their president. And if she wins, nearly 70 percent said it would be because of illegal voting or vote rigging, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.
Conversely, seven out of 10 Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory and less than 50 percent would attribute it to illegal voting or vote rigging, the poll showed.
The findings come after repeated statements by Trump that the media and the political establishment have rigged the election against him. He also has made a number of statements encouraging his supporters to fan out on Election Day to stop ineligible voters from casting ballots.
The U.S. government has accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations and state election systems.
Clinton has said she will accept the results of the election no matter the outcome.
The poll showed there is broad concern across the political spectrum about voting issues such as ineligible voters casting ballots, voter suppression, and the actual vote count, but Republicans feel that concern more acutely.
For example, nearly eight out of 10 Republicans are concerned about the accuracy of the final vote count. And though generally they believe they will be able to cast their ballot, only six out of 10 are confident their vote will be counted accurately.
Among Democrats, about six out of 10 are concerned about the vote count. They, too, believe they wi1l be able to cast their ballot, but eight out of 10 are confident their vote will be counted accurately.
"Republicans are just more worried about everything than Democrats," said Lonna Atkeson, a professor at the University of New Mexico and head of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections, and Democracy.
FLEE THE COUNTRY?
Additionally, seven out of 10 Republicans are concerned about issues such as vote buying, faulty voting machines, or confusing ballot designs. Six out of 10 Democrats feel the same way.
Nearly eight out of 10 Republicans are concerned that ineligible voters, including non-citizens, will illegally cast ballots. Four out of 10 Democrats feel the same way.
Six out of 10 respondents, regardless of party, say they are concerned about issues such as voter intimidation and suppression.
Atkeson said the level of concern and mistrust in the system, especially among Republicans, is unprecedented.
“I’ve never seen an election like this. Not in my lifetime. Certainly not in modern history.” The difference, she said, is Trump. “It has to be the candidate effect.”
She worries that the lack of trust is dangerous. It is one thing to not trust government, but quite another to doubt the election process. “Then the entire premise of democracy comes into question,” she said.
About one in five Democrats said they would protest if their candidate loses. Slightly fewer Republicans said they would do the same. Fewer than one in 10 Democrats said they are prepared to take up arms in opposition compared to fewer than one in 20 Republicans.
Democrats are also are three times as likely to say they would leave the country.
There is one area where there is little disagreement: Most people do not expect the losing candidate to concede the race gracefully.
The poll surveyed 1,192 American adults online from Oct. 17 to 21. The results have a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. The credibility interval for Democrats is 5.1 percentage points; for Republicans it is 5.5 points.
(In 4th paragraph corrects to say "ineligible," not "illegible")
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler)