How a divided America splits on QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Credit: Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute, et al.

There is much discussion about political violence in America these days. Garen Wintemute, University of California, Davis, a scholar researching gun violence, recently led a nationwide survey research project on political violence. The Conversation US asked them for a portrait of what Americans think about political violence as the midterm elections approach.

What is the landscape of political violence in the US today?

In recent years there have been several studies with different designs, methods and measures of violence. Taking the experts’ assessment as a whole, it is clear that Americans’ support for political violence in general is increasing.

Some research finds that Republicans’ support for political violence is growing faster than Democrats’.

In recent years, more political violence has emerged from the force. But most of those studies did not ask respondents whether they were personally willing to engage in violence.

In two studies in late 2022, we examined some aspects of people’s general thoughts about political violence and their willingness to engage in it. One study looked at Americans across the political spectrum. Another focused on Republicans, with a particular focus on people we categorized as “MAGA Republicans,” who we defined as people who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and strongly or strongly agreed that the 2020 election was stolen from them.

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute et al.

How divided are Americans politically?

In both of our studies, we asked respondents their general party affiliation, giving them five initial options: “Republican,” “Democrat,” “Independent,” “other party,” or “no preference.”

People who answered “Republican” or “Democrat” were asked whether they would characterize themselves as “strong” or “not very strong” supporters of that party. People who answered “independent,” “another party,” or “no preference” were asked which major party they believed they were closest to, and we defined those people as “leaning” toward one or the other party.

In our study, which focused on Republicans, we pulled out those who voted for Trump in 2020 and believed the election was stolen by a separate group we called MAGA Republicans.

In general, we found that 55% of Americans do not identify with the Republican Party and 45% of them do. But we found that 15% of Americans—a third of all Republicans—are MAGA Republicans.

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Credit: Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute et al.

What percentage of these groups hold extreme or racist beliefs?

We find that Republicans in general are more likely than Democrats to hold opinions that experts see as extreme or racist. For example, we heard about the widely debunked QAnon collective delusion that the US is controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.

A quarter of MAGA Republicans said they strongly or strongly agreed with QAnon’s beliefs. Another quarter of them said they somewhat agreed with those views. It’s also a marked departure from other Republicans, even strong ones—roughly 80% of whom say they disagree with QAnon’s beliefs.

But when it comes to racial views, such as anti-white discrimination being “as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities” and the idea that “native-born whites are being replaced by immigrants” in the US, most Republicans agree to some extent.

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Credit: Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute et al.

What percentage of these groups see political violence likely to occur?

On several fronts, Republicans expect more political violence than Democrats, including that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country” and that “civil war will erupt” in the next few years. “

More MAGA Republicans hold these views than other Republicans.

What percentage of groups approve of political violence for at least some purposes?

To more deeply understand people’s views on potential political violence, we gave them 17 different political objectives and asked them in a series of questions whether achieving each objective would justify violence.

Some of them were overtly partisan objectives that we would expect people on the political right to support, while others were politically neutral or generally supported by people on the political left.

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Credit: Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute et al.

These are the 17 objectives:

  • To return Donald Trump to the presidency this year
  • To stop the election from being stolen
  • To stop people from voting who don’t share my beliefs
  • To prevent discrimination based on race or ethnicity
  • To preserve the American way of life based on Western European traditions
  • To preserve the American way of life I believe in
  • To oppose Americans who do not share my beliefs
  • To oppose the government when it does not share my beliefs
  • Resisting the government when it tries to take private land for public purposes
  • Stop voter fraud
  • Stop threatening voters
  • Strengthen the police
  • Stop police brutality
  • Stop illegal immigration
  • Keep the borders open
  • Stop protesting
  • Support the protest

About half of strong Republicans and a third of less committed Republicans said violence was justified to achieve one of those goals. By contrast, roughly a quarter of Democrats said the same.

And 6 in 10 MAGA Republicans said at least one of those goals justified violence.

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Credit: Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute et al.

How a divided America divides over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

Credit: Chart: Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Wintemute et al.

What percentage of these groups predict that they will be armed in situations where political violence is considered justified?

Majorities of Americans of all political stripes say they would not expect to be armed with a gun, even in situations where they consider political violence justified. And none of them—even among MAGA Republicans—expect to threaten someone with a gun.

What percentage of these groups believe there should be armed patrols at polling stations?

A majority of Americans oppose the idea of ​​armed citizens patrolling polling places on Election Day. A majority of MAGA Republicans oppose it, but less than 40% of them say it should happen or should be considered.

Provided by Dialog

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.conversation

reference: How QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places divide America (2022, November 7) Retrieved 7 November 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-america-qanon-racism-armed-patrols. html

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