Support for Political Violence in America Is Kind of Shocking

Poll finds 23% of Americans believe it could be necessary 'to save our country'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2023 10:35 AM CDT
Support for Political Violence in America Is Kind of Shocking
Violent insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Nearly one in four Americans support political violence in a new national survey that pollsters say is likely to indicate a "challenging election season." Some 75% of Americans surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution—including 84% of Democrats, 77% of Republicans, and 73% of independent voters—agreed that the "future of American democracy is at risk in the 2024 presidential election," per NPR. About 57% say the reelection of former President Donald Trump would threaten America's democracy and way of life, per Axios. Meanwhile, a peak 23% agree that "because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country," up from 15% following the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021.

Some 22% of independents and 13% of Democrats believe political violence might be needed, compared to one in three Republicans. That's compared to 13%, 7%, and 28%, respectively, in 2021. Republicans with favorable views of Trump were "nearly three times as likely as Republicans who have unfavorable views of Trump" to agree with the statement, according to the survey. At 46%, support for political violence was highest among Americans who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. "If you have this sense that your demographic is supposed to be at the top of political power, and elections don't produce that result, then, well, almost everything's justified to bring about the right 'outcome,'" PRRI founder and President Robert Jones tells Axios.

The survey also found growing support for conspiracy theories. Some 38% of Americans believe in the "great replacement" theory, which claims there's a plot to reduce the influence of white people in society, up from 36%, while 23% agree with QAnon core beliefs related to a world-dominating satanic cabal, up from 14%. "Republicans remain twice as likely as Democrats to be QAnon believers (29% vs. 14%) and three times less likely [to] reject QAnon (14% vs. 43%)," per Axios. There is one point on which there is near consensus, however. Some 94% of respondents agree "we should teach our children both the good and bad aspects of our history so that they can learn from the past." The survey of 2,525 adults has a margin of error of +/- 2.19 percentage points at the 95% confidence level for results based on the full sample. (More political violence stories.)

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