‘Alarming’ study finds 30% of Republicans think ‘true patriots’ may need to turn to violence to save US

Survey by Public Religion Research Institute also shows more than two-thirds of Republicans still believe that the election was stolen from Donald Trump

Rachel Sharp
Monday 01 November 2021 18:51
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Florida Rep Matt Gaetz talks about blowing up the metal detectors in the Capitol
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Almost a third (30 per cent) of Republicans believe that “true American patriots” may need to resort to violence in order to save the US, according to an alarming new study.

Research from the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) found that Republicans are almost three times as likely as Democrats to agree with the statement “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

A total of 11 per cent of Democrats and 17 per cent of independents agreed with the statement.

Overall, almost one in five (18 per cent of Americans) said they believe violence may be needed.

The PRRI 12th annual American Values Survey, released on Monday, questioned 2,508 American adults across all 50 states between 16 and 29 September.

Participants were asked questions around American identity, the false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and their beliefs around political violence.

This comes after a group of Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol on 6 January in a violent insurrection that left five people dead.

The rioters were seeking to stop the certification of the electoral college votes for President Joe Biden based on the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from Mr Trump.

Mr Trump and his staunch allies have continued to push this falsehood even after multiple investigations and lawsuits found there was no evidence of widespread election fraud.

Now, 10 months on from the riot, the PPRI research found that the vast majority of Republicans still believe these conspiracy theories.

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Republicans said they continue to believe that the election was stolen from Mr Trump.

This compares to 26 per cent of independents and just 6 per cent of Democrats.

This belief was even higher among Republicans who said they most trust far-right news sources such as One America News (OAN) and Newsmax (97 per cent) and Fox News (82 per cent).

By contrast, this fell to 44 per cent of Republicans who said they most trust mainstream news outlets.

Similarly, viewers of the right-wing news outlets were also more likely to support resorting to violence with 40 per cent of those watching far-right sources and 32 per cent of Fox News agreeing violence may be the answer.

The survey also found that Americans who believe Mr Trump won the election are around four times more likely (39 per cent to 10 per cent) than those who don’t believe this false claim to agree that true American patriots might need to resort to violence to save the country.

When looking at different religious groups, white evangelicals were most likely to believe the election was stolen (60 per cent) and also most likely to believe violence may be needed (26 per cent).

PPRI founder and CEO Robert Jones said the findings show the “dangerous perpetuation of the ‘Big Lie’” which is leading a “sizable minority” to believe they may be able to justify the need “to threaten, harm, or kill” their fellow citizens.

“The social, political, and economic fabric of America is changing from the old white Christian America pattern - a reality that has created a crisis of identity and a willingness among a majority of Republicans and white evangelicals to question and undermine the legitimacy of American democratic processes,” he said.

“Students of history will recognize the dangerous perpetuation of the ‘Big Lie’ that the election was stolen and the foothold it has found among those who fear a changing America.

“These factors have coalesced in a white Christian nationalist ideology that is strengthened by the proliferation of far-right news sources, resulting in an unprecedented willingness by a sizable minority to believe it may be justifiable to threaten, harm, or kill their fellow citizens to restore the perceived status quo.”

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