Elections are thought to bolster legitimacy by providing fair mechanisms for selecting leaders. Survey data from more than 20,000 respondents in twelve African countries demonstrate that in Africa losers of elections are less inclined to trust their political institutions, consent to government authority or feel that voting matters. Contrary to initial expectations, however, losers are more willing than winners to defend their institutions against manipulation by elected of?cials. Losers in Africa seem critical of their institutions, but nonetheless willing to protect them, while winners seem submissive subjects, granting unconditional support to their current leaders. Finally, losers are much more likely than winners to denounce ?awed elections, but losers have additional reasons to doubt the legitimacy of their current institutions.