In Arizona, the recount of votes from last November’s presidential election proceeds apace. In Texas, Georgia and elsewhere, Republican legislators continue to press “reform” legislation on the premise that the outcome was determined by fraud — a premise rejected over 50 times by state and federal courts.

But although the current level of lingering disbelief on the part of Donald Trump’s supporters is unusually high, a gap between the winning and losing sides’ willingness to accept the outcome of a presidential contest is nothing new. A just-released paper by MIT political scientists Jesse T. Clark and Charles Stewart III drills down into data on the topic and turns up some remarkable findings about voter confidence in the wake of the 2020 election. In particular, although the gap between the two sides’ belief that the contest was fair is by far the largest on record, the explanation may not be what one expects.

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