Half say January 6 riot on Capitol Hill was “a threat to democracy”

© Copyright 2021, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Half of Iowa residents say the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on Jan.6 in an attempt to derail the election certification process was an insurgency and a threat to democracy, according to a new Des Moines Register / Mediacom Iowa poll.

This includes 93% of Democrats, 50% of Independents and 20% of Republicans.

Another 22% of Iowa residents say the event was unfortunate, but it’s a thing of the past so there’s no need to worry about it anymore. And 18% say what happened was a political protest protected by the First Amendment. Five percent of Iowa residents say none of the options best reflect their point of view, and 4% are unsure.

Marianne Jones, a 57-year-old interviewee from Iowa City, said the events of January 6 were “a pretty clear picture of what a failed insurgency attempt might look like” – an attempt which, according to it could undermine the democratic process.

“I have serious concerns about the upcoming election because now we have set this very dangerous precedent,” Jones, a Democrat, said. “I think we have a really big job to do unboxing this for a lot of Americans who really believe the election was stolen. And I think, frankly, puts our democracy at risk. “

The poll results come as the first anniversary of the January 6 riots approaches, and the first wave of rioters is doomed for their role in the fray.

Although the riots initially met with near universal condemnation across the political spectrum, the issue turned into a partisan lightning rod.

Democrats in Congress have called a special commission to investigate the cause of the riots, as well as any potential connection between the administration of former Republican President Donald Trump and organized efforts to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. Republicans dismiss this Congressional effort as pure politics. Meanwhile, many Republicans in Congress have downplayed or outright denied the violence, including ostracizing members of their party who continue to call for an account of the day’s events.

Poll respondent Andy Bream, an independent from Urbandale, is among the Iowans who say it’s time to move on.

“Destroying property is not something for me. Losing my life is not something that suits me at all, ”he said. “But I don’t agree with… what we’re attacking in the media. I don’t agree with that. We continue this story alone. There are other things I would rather focus on as a country than this whole situation – the January 6 situation.

Iowan’s views on the Capitol attack are also divided based on their level of education and where they live. While 63% of those with a college or university degree consider what happened to be an insurgency, 44% of those without a college degree think so. And while 62% of Iowans who live in cities see it as an insurgency, 35% of those who live in rural areas do.

The survey of 810 Iowa adults was conducted Nov. 7-10 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

“Stop the flight”; “Hang Mike Pence”

In the weeks following the election, Trump refused to admit defeat to then-Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. Trump has encouraged his supporters to continue to believe he won, even though trials and recounts have confirmed Biden as the winner.

Trump supporters staged “Stop the Steal” rallies and other protests across the country – efforts that culminated with a rally in Washington, DC scheduled for January 6, the same day Congress was slated to vote for ratify the results of the Electoral College and formalize the victory of Biden.

At the Capitol, the crowd clashed with the police and many members of the crowd forced their way inside, prowling the halls looking for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and chanting “Hang Mike Pence”. As vice president, Pence chaired the joint session of Congress held to certify the vote, and Trump supporters believed he should have acted to block the certification, which legal experts said he did not. no authority to do so.

Republican US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who at the time was in third place for the presidency, was taken away by security guards and transferred to a safe place. Other members of the Iowa congressional delegation took shelter in place as crowds stormed the building.

Grassley tweeted later that day that the riots were “an attack on democracy itself”. And Republican US Senator Joni Ernst said days later it was “horrible” to be in Senate chambers as crowds swarmed outside the chamber.

“To anyone who thinks, ‘Oh, well, that wasn’t a big deal, they were just a little rambunctious,’ no. It was anarchy ”, she said.

When Congress met later that night, every member of the Iowa congressional delegation voted to accept the Electoral College results, even though other Republicans opposed it.

The plurality of republicans qualifies the events of January 6 as a “protected political demonstration”

Democrats in Iowa almost universally agree that the day’s events are insurgent and a threat to democracy, with 93 percent agreeing. Another 4% say it was an unfortunate event, but it is in the past so there is no need to worry anymore, and 1% say it was a political protest protected by the first amendment. Of the remaining Democrats, 1% say none of the options offered describe their thoughts, and 1% say they’re unsure.

Fifty percent of independents call what happened on January 6 an insurgency. 25% say it was unfortunate but in the past, and 14% call it a political protest. Six percent say none of the options are suitable and 5% are unsure.

A narrow plurality of Republicans, 36%, say what happened was a protected political protest, and 32% say it was unfortunate but in the past. Twenty percent of Republicans classify it as an insurgency and a threat to democracy, 7% say none of the options are suitable, and 5% are uncertain.

Of those who voted for Trump in 2020, 15% say it was an insurgency. The rest are roughly evenly divided, with 37% seeing it as an unfortunate event and 35% seeing it as a protected event.

Kevin Butters, a 57-year-old Ankeny poll respondent, is among Republicans who say the events of January 6 were a protected political protest.

He concedes that people probably shouldn’t have entered the Capitol that day, but he wonders who exactly the intruders were.

“I want to know who these people are, who broke in,” he said. “It could be BLM. It could be antifa. I do not know who it is. … I don’t think they were (Trump supporters), but I don’t know.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee in March that the agency had no evidence that groups like antifa – a political movement of far-left activists who oppose neo-Nazis and white supremacists – were present on January 6.

Butters is also among the 26% of Republicans in Iowa who say they are more aligned with Trump than with the Republican Party. According to the poll, 61% of Republicans say they are more aligned with the Republican Party. The margin of error for this question is plus or minus 6 percentage points.

“I don’t think there should be a Democratic or Republican party,” he said. “I just think it should be, hey, what are your ideas and how do you follow them?” “

He said he views Trump as being relatively moderate on major issues, and he doesn’t think Trump is to blame for what happened on January 6.

Regarding that day, Butters said he has a lot of unanswered questions and struggles to come up with satisfactory answers.

“I want the truth,” he said. “This is really what I want. And it’s hard to get the truth.

About the survey

The Iowa poll, conducted Nov. 7-10, 2021 for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 810 Iowans aged 18 and over. Quantel Research investigators contacted households with randomly selected landline and cell phone numbers provided by Dynata. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex, and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent estimates from the American Community Survey.

Questions based on the sample of 810 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Questions based on the sub-sample of 658 likely voters in the 2024 presidential election have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the results would not vary from the actual value of the population by plus or minus 3.4 percentage points or 3.8 points. percentage, respectively. Results based on smaller samples of respondents, for example by sex or age, have a greater margin of error.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the Register’s chief political reporter. Contact her at [email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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