POLITICS

Public Condemns Pro-Trump Capitol Rioters, But Many Republicans Say They 'Had A Point'

By a roughly 2-to-1 margin, Americans say the president didn't do enough to denounce his supporters' actions, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Americans are broadly united in opposing the pro-Donald Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Opinions about the wider context, however, show sharp partisan divides. Many Republicans stop short of unilaterally disavowing the riots or say they view them as unrepresentative of Trump’s supporters. Some baselessly suggest they weren’t the work of his backers at all.

A 74% majority of Americans say they disapprove of the actions of the rioters who stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, with 18% approving. A 93% majority of Democrats disapprove, as do 56% of Republicans. Just 14% of the public, including 27% of Republicans, say they felt that the Trump supporters storming the Capitol represented people like them.

Most Republicans aren’t willing to condone the rioting, but equally few are willing to whole-heartedly condemn its participants. In answering a separate question, 22% of Republicans say the actions of those storming the Capitol were “mostly right,” 23% say they were “mostly wrong,” and a 46% plurality say “they went too far, but they have a point.” 

To get a better sense of Americans’ reactions, we also asked survey respondents to describe their feelings about what happened in their own words. A sizable share of Republicans, regardless of their stated opinion about the storming of the Capitol, volunteered the evidence-free claim that the rioting was committed by Trump’s opponents, not his supporters. Here’s a small sample of their responses, in some cases lightly edited for grammar or brevity. 

Democrats:

  • “I am absolutely disgusted to live in a country that dares to call itself a democracy when things like this happen without consequences.”

  • “I am horrified, appalled, embarrassed, and angry at the terroristic actions and stupidity of these people.”

  • “I feel angry that Trump terrorists can storm the Capitol without storm troopers, rubber bullets or getting shot and very few arrests, unlike the treatment of peaceful BLM protesters this summer.”

  • “In typical American fashion, a privileged white mob feels entitled to use violence to avoid having to share their status just a little bit, knowing they will have impunity for their actions.”

  • “Not surprised at the actions, but disappointed in the country’s preparedness to keep them out.”

Republicans who called the storming of the Capitol “mostly wrong”:

  • “Again, [Trump’s] lies have a large number of people believing them, truly astonishing really. He amped them up enough to commit a crime, just embarrassing.”

  • “I am opposed to rioting, and the people responsible need to be held accountable.”

  • “I feel awful and I am embarrassed to be an American.”

  • “It is sad to see conservatives acting like liberals and resorting to violence when they are unhappy.”

  • “No one should storm the Capitol, but we should ask who these people and backgrounds are. They may or may not be Trump supporters, because most violence has come from the left like antifa after Trump demonstrations in D.C. before.”

Republicans who called the storming of the Capitol going “too far,” but said the rioters had a point: 

  • “Mixed feelings: being suppressed and overruled by smug demagogues leads to spontaneous outbursts of feeling (and most of the protesters weren’t trying to cause harm or injure officials, they just wanted to be heard).”

  • “Their protest should have been done in a more peaceful way.”

  • “I think it was wrong but no damage was done.”

  • “This is truly disheartening, but it’s okay when looting and rioting are considered ‘peaceful protest.’”

  • “I believe that it was Biden supporters posing as Trump supporters to incite riots, etc.”

Republicans who called the storming of the Capitol “mostly right”:

  • “They support the true winner of the election, it’s a great thing.”

  • “It’s about time, if I was there I would have went with them.”

  • “If it is OK for BLM and Antifa to riot in the streets for months, conservatives should be able to do a little something on one day in D.C.”

  • “How do you know for sure it was Trump supporters? I understand there possibly were people dressed in Trump attire that were not Trump supporters at all.”

Reflective Of Trump’s Supporters?

Underlying the widespread condemnation of the riots are highly polarized interpretations about what they reflect and who enabled them. Democrats say, by a 47-point margin, that the storming of the Capitol reflects a broader movement in American society, while Republicans say the same by a smaller 33-point margin.

A 79% majority of Democrats, but only about one-third of Republicans, say they think the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol represent most supporters of the president.

Few Say Trump Did Enough 

Americans say, 54% to 26%, that Trump did not do enough to condemn his supporters’ actions; by 47% to 22%, they say other Republican lawmakers did not do enough to condemn what happened. Forty-three percent say Trump’s rhetoric encourages his supporters to act violently, with 28% saying he discourages them from violence, and the rest that he does neither or they’re not sure.

Views are again highly partisan, with 87% of Democrats and just 21% of Republicans saying the president did not do enough to condemn the events of Wednesday. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats, compared to 12% of Republicans, say Trump encourages violence from his supporters.

The Culpability Of GOP Lawmakers 

About half of Americans say GOP members of Congress who sought to contest the results of the presidential election bear at least some responsibility for inciting Trump’s backers to storm the Capitol, although just 30% say they bear a great deal of responsibility. Three in 10 say they think those members should be either charged with sedition (15%) or removed from Congress (16%), 19% say they should face some other form of consequence, and a third that they should not face any official consequences.

Americans narrowly favor Trump’s impeachment and removal, 47% to 41% ― similar to the margin who favored those actions in December 2019

Republicans See Trump As Losing Some GOP Support

GOP perceptions about Trump’s standing in his party have also changed. Just 48% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters now think that most or all congressional Republicans support Trump, down from 65% in December. There’s less movement in these voters’ own loyalties: A 41% plurality of Republican and Republican-leaning independents who voted for Trump in this year’s presidential election say they consider themselves more supporters of Trump than of the Republican Party, indicating little change from the 42% who said the same last month

Overall, 18% of Americans consider themselves mostly supporters of Trump, with 10% saying they’re mostly supporters of the Republican Party. Another 12% say they support both equally. and 51% say they support neither. 

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 6-8 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.