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Nearly a Quarter of Americans Support Political Violence for the Sake of the Nation 

Discover the surge in support for political violence over the past two years, offering a snapshot of America’s deepening polarization.

Protesters seen all over Capitol building. Source : Shutterstock/lev radin

According to a national opinion poll, nearly a quarter of Americans entertain the notion that political violence could be considered justifiable in efforts to “rescue” the country.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) carried out its 14th yearly American Values Survey in collaboration with the Institution of Brookings. The findings suggest that almost a quarter of Americans think that political violence could be warranted to “rescue” the nation. 

There is a growing gap between different groups of Americans. Additionally, there is a concerning willingness to use armed conflict as a solution to perceived problems.

Support for Political Violence on the rise

Despite President Joe Biden’s efforts to ease political tensions and promote unity, a recent survey exposes a deeply troubling trend. 

The survey shows that support for political violence has dramatically increased in the past two years, which is very concerning. Presently, approximately 23% of Americans concur with the idea that “True American supporters might need to use force to protect our nation.” a stark rise from the 15% recorded in 2021. 

This disturbing shift underscores the persistent polarization and growing disillusionment within the American populace, raising concerns about the country’s political future.

In its eighth survey since March 2021, the PRRI has reported a concerning milestone. Over 20% of people, precisely 23%, now support using political violence to “save” the country, marking a first-time occurrence. This underscores growing polarization and apprehension about the state of American democracy.

This survey underscores the significant influence of political affiliation on Americans’ views regarding political violence. 

One out of every three Republicans now believe that violence may be necessary to save the country. This figure marks a substantial increase since 2021, underscoring the deepening political polarization within the Republican party.

 22% of independents and 13% of Democrats now hold similar views, indicating a concerning increase in belief across the political spectrum.

Notably, nearly one in three white evangelical Protestants believe that they may warrant employing violence for the nation’s protection. This statistic is much higher than the views of other religious groups, showing how religious identity shapes these perspectives.

Factors influencing support for Political Violence

The survey further dissects the factors driving support for political violence. Surprisingly, 46% of convinced Americans who believe that the 2020 election unfairly took from Donald Trump support political aggression. 

A similar proportion (41%) of Americans with a favorable view of Trump endorse this stance. Moreover, 41% of individuals who subscribe to the purported “replacement theory” and 39% of Americans who uphold the fundamental belief of white Christian nationalism—that God destined America to be a new haven for European Christians—also advocate for political violence.

Growing concerns

PRRI’s president and founder, Robert P. Jones, underscores the escalating political tension in the United States. He highlights that the last presidential election was unparalleled in US history due to the absence of a tranquil transition of authority. As political violence persists and the 2024 election approaches, more Americans are showing support for political violence, causing worry.

Trump’s influence

Former President Donald Trump’s influence on this disturbing trend is substantial. Trump now faces a daunting 91 criminal charges across four jurisdictions.

He has taken an alarming turn with his recent rhetoric. He falsely claimed that Gen Mark Milley had committed an act of “treason.”Additionally, he went as far as suggesting that Gen Mark Milley should face execution.

Trump advocates for immediate police action against shoplifters. He also says that immigrants coming in from the southern border are polluting our country. People worry that his strong words are becoming routine.

Future of democracy at risk

Trump claims victory in the 2020 election. However, he is currently the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2024 race. The PRRI study shows that 75% of Americans are worried about the future of democracy in the upcoming election.

84% of Democrats express concern, along with 77% of Republicans and 73% of independents. 

They all believe that democracy’s future is in danger, regardless of their political affiliation. These statistics underscore the deep-rooted anxieties about the integrity of the electoral process in the United States.

QAnon influence

The PRRI has diligently monitored the QAnon conspiracy movement since 2021, revealing a noteworthy trend across political lines. The belief in QAnon has grown, with the percentage of believers increasing from 14% to 23%. On the other hand, the number of people who reject QAnon has decreased from 40% to 29%.

There is a notable difference between Republicans and Democrats in their belief in QAnon. 

Among Republicans, 29% are followers of QAnon, while among Democrats, only 14% are followers. Moreover, they are three times less likely to reject QAnon, with only 14% rejecting it compared to 43% of Democrats. These statistics reflect the persistence of fringe conspiracy theories within the political landscape.

Survey details

This extensive study was carried out among a representative group of 2,525 adults residing in every state across the US, including the District of Columbia. We conducted interviews online between August 25 and 30, 2023.

The results reveal a concerning and polarized political situation in the US. This raises serious concerns about the future of democracy in the country. Additionally, it highlights the potential consequences of the growing acceptance of political violence.

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