Poll: 1 in 4 Americans Say Violence Against the Government is Justifiable
A new poll found that nearly 1 in 4 Americans said violence was either “definitely” or “probably” justifiable against the government, and 1 in 10 say violence is justified “right now.”
The COVID States Project asked 23,000 people across the country whether it is “ever justifiable to engage in violent protest against the government?”
COVID States Project co-director David Lazer says the data isn’t surprising when you consider how history is taught.
“You know, we begin with the American Revolution against an illegitimate government and so we are, in a sense, taught from grade school that it is at some points in history justifiable to engage in violent protest,” Lazer said.
According to the report, Republicans and ideological conservatives are most likely to say violent protest against the government is justifiable right now. Among Republican men, the figure rises to nearly 1 in 5.
“Unfortunately, these survey findings are not at all surprising,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“It’s moved from the sphere of chest thumping into the sphere of reality, and it’s affecting election workers, volunteer poll workers, school boards, you know, really the kind of warp and weft of our democratic system,” she said.
But some researchers say that polls can overstate the potential for violence.
“When trying to measure violence, there’s this tendency to try to be as general as possible to try and capture as much support as possible,” said Sean Westwood, a professor of government at Dartmouth College.
“Individuals will say a great number of things on a poll,” said Christian Davenport, a professor at the University of Michigan and a research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, “but never show up for anything.”