Public support for the use of force against members of Congress nearly doubled from January to June of this year, suggests a recent study by the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), shared with Insider. The study found that by June 26, 17% of the American public, equivalent to an estimated 44 million people, expressed support for using violence to coerce lawmakers. This marks an increase from 9% in January.
The study highlighted a significant rise in support for political violence among self-identified Democrats, with 16% endorsing the use of force against lawmakers in June, compared to 7% in January. Conversely, self-identifying Republicans saw a 50% increase in support for political violence against Congress. Overall, 18% of all respondents who identified as Republicans endorsed the use of force against lawmakers, surpassing the percentage of Democrats.
Study author Robert Pape, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, explained that when survey respondents were asked about violence or coercion, the term “use of force” was used intentionally, as it encompassed scenarios in which people may be injured or killed.
The report emphasized that the increase in support for extremism among Democrats was not explained by a specific causal link, but it coincided with mounting frustration over the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and hearings that depicted Democrats negatively.
Furthermore, Pape’s report revealed a significant surge in public support for using violence to reinstate former President Donald Trump to power. In April, approximately 4% of Americans, equivalent to an estimated 12 million people, supported such violence. However, by the end of June, that number had risen to an estimated 18 million Americans, reflecting a 50% increase.
Pape also noted that the rise in radical support for violence transcended party lines and was connected to the perception of corruption within democratic institutions. He emphasized that there is credible evidence linking distrust in democracy to radical support for the use of force, both for conservative, Republican causes, and liberal causes.