Regarding the D.C. riot at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6th, 35% of Republicans believe Joe Biden is to blame for the actions of those who stormed the building, while only 13% of Republicans believe Donald Trump bears responsibility. That’s the finding of a poll by YouGov, an international research data group headquartered in London, which surveyed registered voters as the events were unfolding that day.
The YouGov survey sampled responses from 1,448 registered voters on January 6th at 5 pm EST. Of those, 1,397 were aware of the events occurring at the Capitol building. According to the company, the margin of error is 3.3% for the sample.
Placing blame: Biden vs. Trump
Among their findings was a partisan split in how the riot was perceived. The aggregate responses show that most registered voters, 55%, blame Trump for rioters’ actions, but the devil is in the details. When analyzing by party affiliation, 90% of Democrats blame Trump compared to only 13% of Republicans claiming the President bears responsibility. Independents split the middle, with 51% assigning blame to Trump.
While only 2% of Democrats point their finger at Biden for the actions at the Capitol, 35% of Republicans believe the president-elect is to blame. Eighteen percent of Independents agree.
Supporting the riot
Survey respondents were also asked if storming the Capitol was justified, seemingly because 56% believe that “enough fraud took place to change the outcome,” according to YouGov. This has increased from the results of an NPR/Ipsos study released in December, just days before the electoral ballot certification, which found that one-third of Americans believed voter fraud was instrumental in the Biden win. The NPR poll also found that 40% believe that Covid-19 was created in a laboratory in China.
45% of Republican voters approve of the chaos in D.C. versus 2% of Democrats — YouGov poll
The NPR/Ipsos poll was conducted on December 21st using a sample population of 1,115 adults. In a true/false “knowledge test” with historical questions (like the moon landing or 9/11), both Democrats and college-educated Americans answered more statements correctly that Republicans, Independents, or those not possessing a college degree. But only 47% could identify the following message, “A group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring is trying to control our politics and media,” as false.
“Increasingly, people are willing to say and believe stuff that fits in with their view of how the world should be, even if it doesn’t have any basis in reality or fact,” said Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos.
This might explain the stark contrast in party affiliation by those who approve of the riot: 45% of Republican voters support the chaos in D.C. versus 2% of Democrats and 21% of Independents.
Patriot or extremist?
The perception of activity at the Capitol may have been due to differing coverage across the networks. Mainstream media outlets like CNN showed rampage throughout the day. Right-leaning media, like OAN, did not cover the brewing hostility and referred to rally attendees as citizens. The OAN lead story titled “Citizens Gather in Washington, D.C. for Save America Rally” opened with the phrase “thousands of patriots have arrived in Washington, D.C.”
So it should come as no surprise that when asked what terms best described the people who stormed the Capitol, there was a partisan split. Democrats overwhelmingly (from 65% to 78% depending upon the phrase) used terms like “extremist”, “domestic terrorists”, “criminals”, and “anti-democratic” to describe those individuals.
A smaller range of Republicans, 26%, used the word “extremist” versus 74% of Democrats. And 30% of Republicans called them “patriots”, the same label that Ivanka Trump used in a now-deleted tweet, compared to just 2% of Democrats.
This finding appears to be bolstered by the 58% of Republicans who saw the activities at the Capitol as more “peaceful than violent,” despite news and video evidence showing smashed glass, defaced office buildings, and pipe bombs.
During the day, Trump tweeted to his followers, “stay peaceful!” But this was in contrast to his earlier call to “be wild” and his lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, calling for “trial by combat” earlier in the morning.
As of Friday, there have been five reported fatalities, including one Capitol law enforcement officer. House Democrats plan to impeach Donald Trump on Monday for “incitement of insurrection,” per CNN, who first reported on the draft documents.