Thirty-four percent of Americans think violent action against the government is sometimes justified, according to a new poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland released days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the US Capitol.
The new figure “is considerably higher than in past polls by the Post or other major news organizations dating back more than two decades,” according to the newspaper. The survey, conducted between December 17 and 19, revealed stark partisan splits on the question: 40% of Republicans and 41% of independents said violence against government is sometimes justified, compared to 23% of Democrats.
In a separate CBS News-YouGov poll released Sunday, 62% of Americans said they expect violence over losing in future presidential elections; 38% said they expect the losing side will concede peacefully. At least a quarter of Americans said “force might be justified,” depending on the situation, regarding issues like civil rights, gun policies, election results and labor.
Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the January 6 attack, during which supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Rioters attacked law enforcement officers and destroyed parts of the iconic building, with the violent event leading to the deaths of multiple people the day of the attack or shortly thereafter, while several officers who responded to the Capitol during the attack later died by suicide.
The Post-UMD poll found 60% of Americans feel Trump bears “a great deal” or “good amount” of responsibility for his role in the attack. Self-identified Republicans and Trump supporters in the poll tended to think he bears less responsibility.
In the CBS News-YouGov poll, 62% of Americans said they think Trump should “not seek the presidency again,” while 26% said he should run in 2024. The former President has not announced a bid for a second term but is seen by many as the likely Republican frontrunner should he run again.
Shortly after the insurrection, the House impeached Trump for inciting the mob, though he was later acquitted by the Senate in a vote that took place after his tenure ended. A small minority of Republicans voted with Democrats to impeach him in the House and convict in the Senate, but Trump has continued to hold significant influence over the direction of the GOP, with his loyalist members downplaying the violence on January 6 in the months since the attack.
The Post-UMD survey found that 54% of Americans believe rioters who entered the Capitol were “mostly violent,” while 19% view them as “mostly peaceful,” and another 27% see them as “equally peaceful and violent.” Democrats were much more likely to view them as mostly violent (78%) compared to Republicans (26%).
There was more agreement about violence against law enforcement officers that day, with 87% saying they think “some protesters injured police officers” and 10% saying “everyone acted peacefully.”
More than 700 people have been charged by the Justice Department in connection with the Capitol riot, with the offenses ranging from illegally entering the building to assaulting officers and members of the media.
The Post-UMD poll was conducted among 1,101 adults online and by phone. The overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The CBS-YouGov poll was conducted from December 27 to December 30 among 2,063 adults. The overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.