American Support for Political Violence Rises

political violence
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A new poll found that nearly a quarter of U.S. respondents would consider political violence to solve the nation’s issues.

Results of the 14th Annual American Values survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with the Brookings Institution, have been released.

According to its findings, 23% of respondents agreed that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” This number is up from 15% in 2021 and marks the first time support for political violence has topped 20%.

This included 33% of Republicans, 22% of independents, and 13% of Democrats — an increase within each party from 2021, when 28% of Republicans and 7% of Democrats agreed.

The jump in support for political violence comes as Americans maintain a pessimistic view of their country.

Of those polled, 77% of respondents believed the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, including 90% of Republicans, 81% of independents, and 59% of Democrats.

A 55% majority of respondents said the U.S. has changed for the worse since 1950 — a polling representation of 73% for Republicans, 57% for independents, and 34% for Democrats.

Another 52% said they believe “America’s best days are now behind us,” with Republicans again leading the charge at 67%, independents at 55%, and Democrats at 35%.

This frustration led some respondents to voice support for more radical approaches to politics. When asked if they believe that “[b]ecause things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to set things right,” 38% said they agree.

Nearly half (48%) of Republicans agreed with the need for such a leader, followed by 38% of independents and 29% of Democrats.

Respondents who said the U.S. has changed for the worse since the 1950s were twice as likely to agree that political violence may be necessary to save the country than those who said it’s changed for the better (30% and 14%, respectively).

Something on which the parties appeared to agree is that the increasing cost of housing and everyday expenses is a pressing problem.

Price hikes in housing and everyday expenses were identified as a critical issue for most respondents, selected by 62%. This is the only issue chosen by a majority of Democrats, independents, and Republicans alike, at 63%, 61%, and 60%, respectively.

Crime was also chosen by 50%, health care by 49%, and human trafficking by 48%. 

The poll was conducted among a sample of 2,525 adults over age 18 from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Its margin of error is +/- 2.19 percentage points.

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