Advertisement

Poll: U.S views on Jan. 6 rioters softening; most believe Trump rightly held accountable

Fewer Americans believe that Jan. 6 rioters were violent and are fairly being prosecuted for their actions than did shortly after the riots in 2021, a poll by The Washington Post and University of Maryland found. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
1 of 2 | Fewer Americans believe that Jan. 6 rioters were violent and are fairly being prosecuted for their actions than did shortly after the riots in 2021, a poll by The Washington Post and University of Maryland found. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Nearly three years after the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol, Americans' views on the intents of the rioters and the validity of the legal penalties they have faced have softened, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland's Center for Civic Engagement found sampled responses from 1,024 people on a series of questions which found that while most Americans believe that the perpetrators were violent and that former President Donald Trump is rightfully being held accountable with charges fewer Americans hold these views than in past years.

Advertisement

Poll data showed a mild decline in respondents who said the Jan. 6 participants were "mostly violent," with 50% of respondents agreeing with the sentiment as opposed to 54% in 2021.

Meanwhile, slightly more Americans said they see the sentences handed down to Jan. 6 participants as too harsh, up to 26% in 2023 compared to 19% in 2021, while the percentage of Americans who see the sentences as being too lenient has decreased from 51% in 2021 to 38% in 2023. The number of people who saw legal punishments as fair increased from 28% to 35% during the same time period.

Advertisement

The Washington Post said some of the respondents attributed their changing views to an unfounded theory that law enforcement present at the Capitol instigated the riots.

The percentage of Americans who see the 2020 election as legitimate also decreased from 69% in 2021 to 62% in 2023, with the number of people saying the election was not legitimate increasing from 29% in 2021 to 36% in 2023.

"From a historical perspective these results would be chilling for many analysts," Michael J. Hamner, director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland said.

Most Americans, however, responded that former President Donald Trump is being justly held accountable after he was indicted last year for efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The percentage of Americans who said former President Donald Trump was probably or definitely guilty of trying to overturn the 2020 election was 56% while 33% said he was probably or definitely not guilty.

A higher percentage of Americans said the government was acting properly in prosecuting Trump for election interference with 57% saying the government was "holding Trump accountable under the law like anyone else," while 41% said he was being "unfairly targeted."

Advertisement

Latest Headlines