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UMD-Post Poll: Republicans Increasingly Loyal to Trump, Sympathetic to Capitol Rioters

Survey Also Finds Fewer in GOP Believe Biden Was Legitimately Elected

By Laura Ours

red Capitol Building

A new UMD-Washington Post poll found that Republicans’ loyalty to former President Trump rose in recent years.

Photo by Shutterstock

Nearly three years after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, Republicans are more sympathetic to the rioters and less likely to hold him responsible for the violence, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll that tracked several hot-button issues leading into the 2024 presidential primaries.

Compared to the results of a December 2021 Post-UMD survey, Republicans were less likely to view President Joe Biden’s election as legitimate than in 2021, with only 31% today acknowledging Biden’s claim to office, compared to 39% previously. Support for Biden’s legitimacy also dropped from 69% to 62% among U.S. adults overall, from 72% to 66% among independents and even fell by 3 percentage points among Democrats to 91% (although the difference falls within the poll’s margin of error).

The current poll, fielded Dec. 14-18 among a random national sample of 1,024 adults, also finds 56% of Americans believe Trump is “probably” or “definitely” guilty of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results through false claims of voter fraud; 40% who say he is definitely guilty.

Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats believe Trump is guilty, while nearly 7 in 10 Republicans think he is innocent. Among independents, nearly twice as many think Trump is guilty as those who say he is innocent.

Meanwhile, 55% of Republicans think legal punishments for the people who broke into the Capitol have been “fair” or “not harsh enough”; that is down slightly from 64% in 2021. Seven in 10 independents and about 9 in 10 Democrats say punishments have been fair or insufficient. And slightly fewer Republicans now say Jan. 6 protesters were “mostly violent” than they did in 2021.

Demographic factors loomed large in the survey results, researchers said.

“Differences between the youngest and oldest age groups stood out in this survey,” said government and politics Professor Michael J. Hanmer, director of UMD’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement, who helped to design the poll. “For example, 25% of 18- to 29-year-olds said Trump bears a great deal of responsibility for the January 6 attack on the Capitol, compared to 50% of those aged 65 and older.”

Older Americans are also slightly more likely than younger ones to say Biden was legitimately elected, as are Americans with college degrees.

Interestingly, Hanmer said, there are wide differences by age even among Democrats, with 50% of 18- to 39-year-old Democratic leaners saying Trump bears a great deal of responsibility for the attack, compared to 86% for Democratic leaners aged 50 or older.



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