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

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

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

There is a lot of talk about political violence in America today. Garen Wintemute, University of California, Davis, a scholar who studies gun violence, recently led a national survey research project on political violence. US Conversations asked him 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?

There have been several studies in recent years, with different designs, methodologies and measures of violence. The expert assessment is that taking them all, it is clear that in general American support for political violence has increased.

Some of those studies have found that Republicans’ support for political violence is growing faster than among Democrats.

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

In two studies at the end of 2022, we investigated the public’s thoughts about political violence and some aspects of their willingness to engage in it themselves. One of the studies looked at Americans on the political spectrum. Others focus on Republicans, with particular attention to those we classify as “MAGA Republicans,” which we define as those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and strongly or strongly agreed that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

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

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

How are Americans divided politically?

In both of our studies, we asked respondents for their public party affiliation, offering them five initial options: “Republican,” “Democrat,” “Independent,” “Other party” or “No preference.”

Those who answered “Republican” or “Democrat” were asked whether they considered themselves to be “strong” or “not very strong” supporters of that party. Those who answered “Independent,” “Other party” or “No preference” were asked which party they believed they were closer to, and we described those people as “leaning” toward one party or the other.

In our study focused on Republicans, we pulled out those who voted for Trump in 2020 and believe this election was stolen into a separate group we called MAGA Republicans.

Overall, we found that 55% of Americans do not identify with the Republican Party and 45% do not. But we also found that 15% of Americans — about one-third of all Republicans — are MAGA Republicans.

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

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

What percentage of this group hold extreme or racist beliefs?

We found that Republicans in general were more likely than Democrats to hold views seen as extreme or racist by experts. For example, we asked about the widespread QAnon mass delusion that the US is controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Just over a quarter of MAGA Republicans said they strongly or strongly agreed with QAnon’s beliefs. Another quarter said they somewhat agreed with that view. That’s a significant departure even from other Republicans, even strong ones—among whom roughly 80% said they disagreed with QAnon’s beliefs.

But when it comes to racist views, such as the idea that anti-white discrimination “is a big problem as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities” and that “natural-born people are being replaced by immigrants” in the US, most Republicans agree to some degree.

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

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

What percentage of this group sees political violence likely to occur?

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

More MAGA Republicans hold this view than other Republicans.

What percentage of these groups support political violence for at least some purpose?

To better understand people’s views on the potential for political violence, we offered them 17 different political goals and asked, in a series of questions, whether achieving each goal would justify violence.

Some of them are openly partisan goals we would expect people on the political right to support, while others are politically neutral, or more generally supported by people on the political left.

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

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

Here are the 17 goals:

  • For Donald Trump’s return to the presidency this year
  • To stop the election from being stolen
  • To stop people who don’t believe me to vote
  • 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 that I believe in
  • To oppose Americans who disagree with my beliefs
  • To oppose the government when it disagrees with my beliefs
  • To oppose the government when it tries to take private land for public purposes
  • Stop voter fraud
  • Stop scaring voters
  • Strengthen the police
  • Stop police brutality
  • Stop illegal immigration
  • Keep the border open
  • Stop protesting
  • Support the protest

Almost half of strong Republicans and more than a third of less dedicated Republicans said violence would be justified to achieve at least one of those goals. By contrast, roughly a quarter of Democrats said so.

And 6 in 10 MAGA Republicans say at least one of those goals justifies violence.

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

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

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

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

What percentage of this group predicted that they would be armed in a situation where they saw true political violence?

A large majority of Americans of all political stripes say they don’t expect to be armed with guns, even in situations where they see true political violence. And almost none of them-even among MAGA Republicans-think of threatening someone with a firearm.

What percentage of this group believes there should be armed patrols at polling stations?

Most Americans oppose the idea that armed citizens should patrol polling places on Election Day. The majority of MAGA Republicans disagreed, but only 40% of them said it should either happen or should be considered.

Provided by The Conversation

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

Citation: How America is divided over QAnon, racism and armed patrols at the polls (2022, November 7) retrieved November 7, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-america-qanon-racism-armed-patrols.html

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