Major Research Explores the Country’s Understanding of—and Reaction to—Political Violence.

Friday, July 29th, 2022

At a time when the January 6th Committee explores the most infamous example of political violence in a century, a very large sample survey of adults conducted on the behalf of the Joyce Foundation, Klarman Family Foundation and Trusted Elections Fund explores the public’s understanding of political violence, how big a threat they find political violence, whether and how they might justify political violence and support for significant steps to reduce political violence.

This research includes findings from a survey with a base sample of 1,000 adults, as well as oversamples among Black people, Hispanics, Asian-American Pacific Islanders, and oversamples in 14 states. With these oversamples, a total of 6216 online interviews were conducted. This research was completed between January 28 to April 11, 2022.  This research also includes an analysis of the social-media landscape around political violence, an initial online survey of 800 U.S. adults, and a suite of four focus groups among gun owners, people of color, self-ascribed conservatives, and young people.

Some key highlights include:

  • A huge majority of Americans believe political violence is a problem.
  • Relatively few Americans justify political violence. That said, this judgement is often conditional and there are certain issues (guns, choice, attacks on the First Amendment) that rise to a level where a violent response might be more acceptable for some.
  • More so than any other dynamic, including ideology and gun ownership, age plays the strongest role in predicting justification of political violence. Young people are four times more likely to justify violence compared to older people.
  • Huge majorities support specific steps to reduce political violence, including cracking down on social media posts calling for political violence and restricting guns in sensitive places.

Several analyses, Power-Point decks, data runs and toplines from this research can be found at the Joyce Foundation web site HERE.