There is a lot of talk about political violence in America these days. Garen Wintemute, a UC Davis scholar who studies gun violence, recently led a national research project on political violence. US magazine The Conversation asked him to provide a portrait of Americans’ perceptions of political violence as the midterm elections approach.
What is the state of political violence in America today?
There have been several studies in recent years, with different designs, methods and measures of violence. Taking them as a group, it’s clear that, in general, Americans’ support for political violence has been increasing, experts assess.
Some of these studies found that Republicans’ support for political violence grew faster than Democrats.
In recent years, most political violence has come from the right. But many of these studies did not ask respondents whether they personally would be willing to engage in violence.
In two studies at the end of 2022, we examine some aspects of people’s general perceptions of political violence and their own willingness to engage in political violence. One of the studies looked at Americans across the political spectrum. Another focus on Republicans, specifically on people we classify as “MAGA Republicans,” which we define as people who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and strongly or very strongly agree that the 2020 election was stolen by him.
How are Americans divided politically?
In both of our studies, we asked respondents about their general party affiliation, giving them five initial options: “Republican,” “Democratic,” “Independent,” “Another party,” or “No preference.”
Those who answered “Republican” or “Democratic” were asked if they described themselves as “strong” or “not very strong” supporters of the party. People who answered ‘independent’, ‘the other’ or ‘no preference’ were asked which major party they felt they were closer to, and we described these people as ‘inclined’ to one or the other.
In our study of Republicans, we excluded those who voted for Trump in 2020 and thought the election was stolen, which we call MAGA Republicans.
Overall, we found that 55% of Americans disapprove of the Republican Party, and 45% of them do. But we also found that 15 percent of Americans—about one-third of all Republicans—are MAGA Republicans.
What percentage of these groups hold extreme or racist beliefs?
We found that, overall, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to hold views that experts viewed as extreme or racist. For example, we asked about the widely debunked QAnon popular delusion that America is controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.
More than a quarter of MAGA Republicans said they strongly or very strongly agree with QAnon’s beliefs. Another quarter said they agreed with these views to some extent. It’s a significant departure from even other Republicans, even powerful Republicans — about 80 percent of whom say they disagree with QAnon’s beliefs.
But when it comes to racist views, such as anti-white discrimination “as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities” and the idea that “native-born whites are being replaced by immigrants” in America, most Republicans Agreed to some extent.
What percentage of these groups believe that political violence is possible?
Republicans tend to expect political violence more than Democrats on several fronts, including anticipating that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country” and even anticipating “a civil war in the next few years.” “
More MAGA Republicans hold these views than any other Republican.
What percentage of these groups support political violence for at least some goals?
To gain a deeper understanding of people’s perceptions of potential political violence, we provided them with 17 different political goals and asked in a series of questions whether achieving each goal justified the violence.
Some of these are overtly partisan goals that we want support from the political right, while others are politically neutral, or more generally supported by the political left.
These are the 17 goals:
- Put Donald Trump back in the presidency this year
- Stop election theft
- Prevent people who disagree with my beliefs from voting
- Prevent discrimination based on race or ethnicity
- Preserving the American way of life based on Western European traditions
- To preserve the American way of life I believe in
- against Americans who disagree with my beliefs
- Oppose the government when it disagrees with my beliefs
- Oppose government expropriation of private land for public use
- Stop voter fraud
- stop intimidating voters
- strengthen police force
- stop police violence
- stop illegal immigration
- keep borders open
- stop protesting
- support the protest
Almost half of strong Republicans and more than a third of less dedicated Republicans said violence could achieve at least one of its goals. By contrast, about a quarter of Democrats said so.
Six in 10 MAGA Republicans said at least one of those goals justified violence.
What percentage of these groups predict that they will arm in situations they deem political violence to be justified?
The vast majority of Americans of all political affiliations say they don’t want to own a gun even when they think political violence is justified. Hardly anyone — even among MAGA Republicans — expects to threaten someone with a gun.
What percentage of these groups believe that there should be armed patrols at polling places?
The vast majority of Americans oppose the idea that armed citizens should patrol polling places on Election Day. Most MAGA Republicans oppose it, but less than 40 percent say it should happen or should be considered.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original text.
Citation: How a Divided America Divided QAnon, Racism, and Armed Patrols at Polling Places (Nov 7, 2022), Nov 7, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-america-qanon- racism-armed-patrols retrieval.html
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