Republicans Blame Democrats, Antifa and U.S. Capitol Police for Jan. 6 Mayhem, According to New UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll

Poll finds plurality of respondents say Trump is most responsible for the violence at the Capitol, while a majority supports continuing federal efforts to find, arrest and prosecute the day’s participants
Tatishe Nteta
Tatishe Nteta
Raymond La Raja
Raymond La Raja
Alexander Theodoridis
Alexander Theodoridis

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at www.umass.edu/poll

AMHERST, Mass. – As federal law enforcement officials continue to announce charges and arrests related to the invasion of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, a new nationwide University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB poll released today finds that while a plurality of Americans hold former President Trump responsible for the violence and destruction that day, Republicans are more likely to pin the blame for the day’s events on Democrats.

The new poll of 1,000 respondents conducted April 21-23 found that Trump is viewed as most responsible for the violence at the Capitol, with 45% deeming the former president liable for the hours-long siege of the seat of American government. Trump is blamed by 79% of Democrats and one-third (32%) of independents, as well as solid pluralities or majorities of all races, ages, genders and income and education levels.

The Republicans who responded in the poll have an entirely different view, however. Nearly a third (31%) of Republicans blame the Democratic Party for the violence at the Capitol. Antifa – the informal anti-fascist political activist group – was blamed by over one-fifth (22%) of Republicans, while 16% blamed the U.S. Capitol Police, who have reported that over 70 officers were injured in the siege.

“A little over 100 days since the shocking events that resulted in five deaths, scores of injured police officers, millions of dollars of damage to the U.S. Capitol and the temporary delay in the certification of the presidential election, close to 6-in-10 Americans describe the event as a ‘riot,’” says Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the poll. “Partisanship is a lens by which we see the political world, however, and unsurprisingly partisanship plays a central role in the ways that Americans describe the events that took place on January 6th.”

Democrats are more likely to employ words such as ‘insurrection,’ ‘riot’ and ‘coup,’ while Republicans describe the events in a more positive light, with 70% using the word ‘protest.’”

Republicans also use different terms than the rest of the population to describe the participants in the day’s events. Overall, respondents used terms such as “mob,” “rioters,” “white nationalists,” “insurrectionists,” and “terrorists.” Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans described them as “protestors.”

“In the early hours of January 6th, a number of conservative media outlets labeled the participants as patriots,” Nteta says. “This characterization has seemed to stick as a shocking 35% of Republicans describe the participants as ‘patriots.’”

“The racial differences between how voters understand the January 6th events cannot be understated,” says Raymond La Raja, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. “About half of whites appeared to legitimate the activities by calling them ‘protests’ compared to just a third of voters who belong to non-white racial groups. Instead, majorities of African Americans and Latinos called the participants ‘white nationalists’ and ‘rioters.’”

Alexander Theodoridis, associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll, observed, “If there was any lingering doubt that Americans see the world through red or blue colored lenses, evaluations of the shocking events at the United States Capitol on January 6 should put it to rest. We all watched the same events, but we somehow saw very different things depending on our party identity.”

Four months after the event, a wide majority of Americans want the authorities to continue seeking justice against those who stormed the Capitol that day, according to the poll.

“With the assistance of the public, hundreds of participants in the events of January 6th have been arrested and close to two-thirds (65%) of the public supports continuing the efforts to identify, arrest and charge those responsible for damaging the U.S. Capitol building,” Nteta says.

One-third of Republicans and 36% of Trump voters polled said that they opposed the ongoing efforts of federal law enforcement agencies to hold the Capitol invaders responsible, however.

Methodology

This University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll of 1,000 respondents nationwide was conducted April 21-23 by YouGov. YouGov interviewed 1,151 respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 1,000 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race and education. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year sample with selection within strata by weighted sampling with replacements, using the person weights on the public use file.

The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity, years of education, and region. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles.

The weights were then post-stratified on 2016 Presidential vote choice, and a four-way stratification of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories) to produce the final weight.

The margin of error within this poll is 3.4%.

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at www.umass.edu/poll

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