A quarter of Republicans view the Jan. 6 attack as justified


HR King
May 29, 2001
For the most part, Americans have a shared view of the attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021: It was an unwarranted attack for which Donald Trump and his supporters in Washington that day bear blame. But a substantial subset of Americans — including a large chunk of Trump’s party — disagree.
The question of how Americans view the attack and its causes has been evaluated regularly over the past 17 months. This week, polling conducted by YouGov for Yahoo News offers a new assessment, one of the first since the House select committee began its series of public hearings focused on the day’s violence.
Sign up for How To Read This Chart, a weekly data newsletter from Philip Bump
What’s particularly useful about this new polling is that it breaks out the responses of a group salient to the issue: people who hadn’t watched the committee hearings. About half of respondents said they hadn’t watched the hearings live or even later coverage of it. Among those who identified Fox News as their preferred cable news outlet, nearly half said they’d seen no coverage of the hearings. Given that this poll follows the Jan. 6 committee’s initial presentations, that group is broken out in many of the results below.
We can begin with the central question: Was the riot justified? Again, most Americans said no. But half of Republicans said either that it was or that they were not sure if it was. Interestingly, those who said they didn’t watch coverage of the hearings were more likely than Republicans to say the attack was not justified.
On this question, though not to the same extent on others, the views of the “didn’t watch” group mirror those of political independents.
YouGov also asked whether the attack was part of a conspiracy to overturn the election and, if so, whether Trump was at the center of it. Those who didn’t watch coverage of the committee hearing were less likely to view the day’s events as part of a conspiracy — but were more likely to say so than Republicans. Most Republicans said the attack was not part of a conspiracy.
Perhaps the most remarkable finding centered on the causes of the riot. As noted above, most Americans point at Trump as deserving blame for the riot. But that’s true of only a quarter of Republicans and less than half of those who didn’t watch any hearing coverage.
Who do Republicans think deserve blame? Nearly three-quarters said that “left-wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad” deserved at least some blame for the attack — more than blamed Trump or even the Trump supporters obviously involved in the day’s violence. Among those who said they didn’t watch coverage of the House committee hearings, half blamed these theoretical leftists. (There is no evidence that anti-Trump protesters played any significant role in what occurred that day.)
One aspect of the Yahoo News-YouGov poll that’s gained some attention since it was released centers on Americans’ confidence in the future of democracy. More than half the country is very concerned about the stability of our form of government; three-quarters have at least some concern.
In past polls, Republicans — triggered by Trump’s false claims about election fraud — have expressed more concern about the future of democracy. In this poll, though, Democrats are more likely to express concern, although by a narrow margin. Interestingly, younger Americans are less worried about it, mirroring other polling showing how age affects views of American democracy.
The goal of the House select committee’s work is to demonstrate to Americans what occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, and to make recommendations to prevent it from occurring again. One challenge is that less than half of Republicans think it could happen again. Unsurprisingly, so do less than half of those who didn’t watch any coverage of the hearings.

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, and particularly the processes and rhetoric that led up to that day, deserve broad explication. But many Americans aren’t watching and, overlapping with that group, many Republicans aren’t likely to be compelled by what the committee presents.
YouGov asked respondents if they thought the committee was “reporting the truth” about the attack. Only a third of Americans said they thought it was, with another 29 percent saying they weren’t sure. Sixty percent of Republicans said the committee was not reporting the truth.