The anti-government militants in Oregon may have occupied a federal building, but they're not really occupying most Americans' attention, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows.
Nearly a week into the occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife refuge, which the group seized to protest the federal sentencing of two ranchers, just 18 percent of Americans say they've heard a lot about the situation. Nearly a third haven't heard anything about it at all.
Only 17 percent of Americans believe the group was justified in taking over a building in protest, while 43 percent say the move was unjustified, with the rest unsure. Just 6 percent of Americans feel that the Oregon protesters represent people like them.
However, respondents don't see the militants as anything more than a moderate threat. Sixteen percent say groups like the one in Oregon are very dangerous, while 28 percent call them somewhat dangerous and 33 percent say they're not very or not at all dangerous. By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans don't think the militants should be considered terrorists.
Seven percent think law enforcement's response to the group has been too aggressive, while 26 percent say it's about right and 16 percent say it's not aggressive enough.
The poll also asked respondents whether they thought law enforcement would have taken harsher action against the protesters if they had been black. Thirty-seven percent, including 62 percent of black Americans polled, say officials would have responded more aggressively to black protesters, while 30 percent believe a black group would have been treated about the same. Just a tenth say black protesters would have been treated less aggressively.
Opinions on the occupation divide to some extent along party lines, although neither side of the aisle is particularly supportive. Members of both parties are more likely than not to consider the group's actions unjustified, although Democrats expressed that view by a far greater margin than Republicans. Democrats are also 20 points more likely than Republicans to say such armed groups are very dangerous, and 19 points more likely to consider them terrorists.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 4-7 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.
The Huffington Post 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. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.
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