At a rally in Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 7, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told supporters that if he does not win the election Tuesday, he will consider his campaign "the single greatest waste of time, energy … and money." (The Washington Post)

After the votes are counted Tuesday night, how will Americans react if their candidate loses? Speculation abounds.

Our recent surveys indicate that supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will respond differently, with Trump voters more likely to say they would protest the legitimacy of the election and encourage lawmakers to engage in political obstruction.

We drew these conclusions from a poll we conducted with 1,250 Americans on Nov. 3. As we have described in previous posts, we conduct our survey using Pollfish. (For more on our methodology, see here and here.)

We first asked whether respondents believed the United States would lose its “competitive edge” in the world if their preferred candidate loses. In the figure below, 82 percent of Clinton supporters and 88 percent of Trump supporters agreed that the country would fall behind if the other side won.


Clinton voters would want lawmakers to work with a Trump president. Trump voters don’t feel the same way.

But when we look at the way that Trump and Clinton supporters would want lawmakers to react to a victory by the other side, we find significant partisan differences. First, 31 percent of Trump supporters said they would personally protest the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency. In contrast, the share of Clinton voters who said they would protest a Trump victory was just 20 percent.

Second, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Clinton supporters said their party should work with Trump if he wins. But if Clinton wins, just 45 percent of Trump supporters said that Republicans should work with her.

Instead, nearly one-third (31 percent) of Trump supporters said they would want their party’s to “block any policy” coming from a Clinton administration. This is perhaps not surprising in light of promises by Republican lawmakers to obstruct even potential Clinton Supreme Court nominations. At the same time, just 19 percent of Clinton supporters said the same thing about how Democrats should react if Trump becomes president.

Trump voters are unhappy with Fox News. 

A final question about the aftermath of the election is whether there would be momentum for a Trump television network, as seems possible. As a way of gauging the potential audience for a Trump-led media enterprise, we asked respondents whether they thought various networks had provided the candidates with the “right” level of support during the campaign, whether coverage was too critical but other sources had filled the gap, or whether there is a need for another news outlet that “speaks for people like me.”

Just 41 percent of Trump voters think Fox News has been sufficiently supportive of Trump. Thirty-five percent indicate that the U.S. needs a new cable news station that speaks for them because Fox News  has been too critical of Donald Trump throughout the election cycle.

As a point of comparison, only 11 percent of Clinton voters said a new news network was needed, and 55 percent said MSNBC has provided the proper level of support for Clinton. If Clinton loses, don’t expect to see HRC TV any time soon.

Regardless of which candidate wins, however, our data and others’ suggest that the wounds of 2016 are unlikely to heal soon.

Tobias Konitzer is a PhD candidate in communication at Stanford University. Find him on Twitter @KonitzerTobias. Sam Corbett-Davies is a PhD candidate at Stanford University in computer science. Find him on Twitter @scorbettdavies. David Rothschild is an economist at Microsoft Research. Find him on Twitter @DavMicRot.