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Donald Trump, Supporters, US Capitol
Supporters of Donald Trump in front of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Photo credit: Brett Davis / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A new opinion poll regarding January 6, 2021, tells a troubling tale of polarization in the United States.

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While a majority of Americans believes that the insurrection Donald Trump sparked on January 6, 2021, constitutes “an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten,” nearly three-fourths of Republicans think that “too much is being made of the storming of the United States Capitol.”

That number is even higher among people who voted for Trump, according to a newly released Washington Post poll. A whopping 80 percent of them apparently feel that the violent assault on Congress wasn’t such a big deal and that it’s time to move on.

While these figures aren’t terribly surprising, they tell a troubling tale of polarization in the United States. It defies belief that anybody could have watched the images of a mob sacking the Capitol without believing that this was a seminal moment in US history. 

Then again, chances are that, in the aftermath of the attack, most Republicans were spoonfed a sanitized version of what occurred on January 6. In that alternate reality propagated by Trump, his allies, and right-wing media outlets, the violence wasn’t so bad, and anybody held to account is a “political prisoner” who fell victim to the Biden administration’s “weaponization of the Department of Justice.”

In addition, since the poll also shows that two-thirds of Republicans do not believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected, they probably feel that the insurrection was justified. 

The new survey demonstrates the effectiveness of this vast propaganda machine.

Overall, only 10 percent of Trump voters believe that the former president bears a “great deal” or a “good amount” of responsibility for the attack. 

However, there is also some good news in the poll for people who believe that the former president is to blame for what happened and want him held to account. 

Asked about whether they believe Trump is guilty or innocent of the charges of lying about voter fraud “in an illegal effort to overturn the 2020 election,” 40 percent of respondents said he is “definitely guilty,” while another 16 percent believe he is “probably guilty.

In a welcome sign that voters are not convinced by the former president’s attempts to portray the related charges filed against him as a political witch hunt, a majority of Americans (57 percent) believe that the Justice Department is merely trying to hold Trump accountable like every other citizen and not targeting him for political reasons.

In addition, 46 percent of respondents said Trump’s actions leading up to the attack should disqualify him from holding the presidency again, while an additional 17 percent believe that what happened casts doubts on his fitness to hold the nation’s highest office again but is not disqualifying. 

Only one-third of voters, including two-thirds of Republicans, stated that the events of January 6 have no bearing on Trump’s fitness to serve. 

Finally, Americans expect a repeat of what transpired after the 2020 election if the former president were to run and lose again. 

Just more than a quarter of voters think that, in that case, Trump would accept the results of the election. In what is perhaps the most telling figure of the entire poll, barely half of Republicans believe the former president would simply concede.

Conversely, two-thirds of all voters think that Biden would accept the results of the election were he to run and lose. 


Author

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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