Op-Ed: Poll — 50 percent of Republicans say Capitol riot was peaceful

Posted Apr 5, 2021 by Karen Graham
Since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have pushed false and misleading accounts to downplay the event that left five dead and scores of others wounded. Somebody was listening.
Supporters of Donald Trump  including far-right extremists and QAnon conspiracy theorists  stormed t...
Supporters of Donald Trump, including far-right extremists and QAnon conspiracy theorists, stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly attack
Saul LOEB, AFP/File
It has been nearly three months to the day since the Capitol riot took place when a mob of Trump supporters tried to overturn his election loss by breaching police lines and forcibly breaking into the Capitol building while Congress was in a joint session formalizing the Electoral College vote.
Hundreds of Trump supporters, many sporting Trump campaign gear and waving flags, climbed the Capitol walls, smashed windows, trashed offices, and caused deaths, many injuries, and thousands of dollars in destruction. As the violent riot took place before millions of television viewers, it was not seen the same way by everyone.
Interestingly, Trump and his allies have gone to the extreme of painting the rioting mob that January day in a jarringly inaccurate picture - as a peaceful and decidedly non-violent demonstration. And in a recent interview with Fox News, Trump said the rioters posed “zero threat.” Really?
Apparently, Trump has his supporters under his thumb, even though he has been out of office for three months. Why else would the Reuters poll show that almost half of Republicans surveyed believe the Jan. 6 riot was mostly nonviolent or caused by activist factions on the left "trying to make Trump look bad?"
This contrasts with the 80 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents who don't believe the attack was "mostly peaceful." Most Americans - about 60 percent - also believe Biden won the November election fair and square and said Trump should not run again.
GOP respondents - 60 percent - still believe the election was stolen from Trump, and the same percentage believe he should run again in 2024.
"Republicans have their own version of reality," says Vanderbilt University political science professor John Geer. "It is a huge problem. Democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires evidence."
Allie Carroll, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said its members condemned the Capitol attack and referred to a Jan. 13 statement from Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “Violence has no place in our politics ... Those who partook in the assault on our nation’s Capitol and those who continue to threaten violence should be found, held accountable, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” McDaniel said.
The March 30-31 Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. The poll gathered responses from 1,005 adults and has a credibility interval of about 4 percentage points.