A third of Americans say violence against government sometimes justified a year on from Capitol riot

A significant share of Americans believe that violence against the US government is sometimes justified as the United States approaches the one-year anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol.

In a University of Maryland/Washington Post poll, 34 per cent of respondents agreed with the sentiment that it was sometimes “justified for citizens to take violent action against the government”. That share of respondents was only a few percentage points higher than the share (29 per cent) who said they still believed that President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election was illegitimate.

Broken down into reasons for potential violence, 22 per cent of that share who said violent acts were sometimes justified said that it would be morally acceptable to use violence in the case of government “violat[ing] or tak[ing] away rights or freedoms”. Another 13 per cent of those who said violence was justified said that any violation of the US Constitution by the government would warrant a violent response by citizens.

Trust in the integrity of US democracy is at worrying lows in the poll, broadly speaking. Roughly a third of voters, 34 per cent, say that they don’t believe “[a]ll eligible US citizens will have a fair opportunity to vote”, while a startling 50 per cent of Americans are worried that Republican state officials will refuse to accept valid election results in 2022 or 2024 should their party suffer defeats. Thirty-two per cent said the same about state-level officials and lawmakers aligned with the Democratic Party. Thirty-six per cent of respondents told pollsters that they were not confident at all or less confident that votes would be counted “accurately” in the 2022 midterm elections.

The share of voters who believe that the 2020 election was tainted (29 per cent) is notably lower than the share who said that Donald Trump was not elected legitimately (42 per cent) when the same poll was taken in 2017. The US presidential election a year earlier was marred by Russian interference which the US intelligence community found in a report was undertaken to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of victory, though no conclusive evidence was ever uncovered linking the Trump campaign directly to Russian officials.

The share of voters who do not believe Mr Trump’s defeat last year was the result of a legitimate election is significant, however, due to the violence that unfolded at the US Capitol in early 2021 when thousands of the ex-president’s supporters massed around the building, battling with law enforcement and attempting to halt the certification of the election results. Mr Trump’s allies also engaged in efforts around the country to pressure local officials into launching investigations and toss out ballots he baselessly argued were fraudulent, as well as a campaign to convince Vice President Mike Pence to interfere with the certification of the election.

The broad scope of the former president’s efforts to overturn his election defeat have concerned many political experts who warn that the US is headed for a similar situation (or worse) in 2024, given that Mr Trump appears to be the likely favourite to win the GOP primary right now.

The Washington Post/University of Maryland poll surveyed 1,101 adults living in the US, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The poll was taken between 17-19 December.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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