How a divided America, including the 15% who are ‘MAGA Republicans,’ splits on QAnon, racism and armed patrols at polling places

By Garen Wintemute, University of California, Davis

There is much talk about political violence in America these days. Garen Wintemute, a University of California, Davis, scholar who researches firearm violence, has recently led a nationwide survey research project on political violence. The Conversation U.S. asked him for a portrait of what Americans think about political violence as the midterm elections approach.

What’s 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 as a whole, it’s clear that in general Americans’ support for political violence has been increasing.

Some of that research has found that Republicans’ support for political violence is growing faster than it is among Democrats.

In recent years, most political violence has emanated from the right. But many of those studies have not asked respondents whether they are personally willing to engage in violence.

In two studies in late 2022, we examined people’s general thoughts about political violence and some aspects of their willingness to engage in it themselves. One of the studies looked at Americans across the political spectrum. The other focused on Republicans, with specific attention on people we classified as “MAGA Republicans,” whom we defined as people who had voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and agreed either strongly or very strongly that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

How are Americans divided politically?

Fewer than half of Americans are Republicans

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

People who answered “Republican” or “Democrat” were asked whether they characterize themselves as “strong” or “not very strong” supporters of that party. People who answered “Independent,” “Another party” or “No preference” were asked which major party they believe they are closer to, and we described those people as “leaning” to one party or the other.

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

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

What percentages of these groups hold extreme or racist beliefs?

Republicans more likely to anticipate political violence

Among Republicans, MAGA believers more likely to anticipate political violence

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

Just over a quarter of MAGA Republicans said they agreed strongly or very strongly with the QAnon beliefs. Another quarter of them said they somewhat agreed with those views. That was a significant departure even from other Republicans, even strong ones – among whom roughly 80% said they disagree with QAnon beliefs.

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

What percentages of these groups see political violence as likely to occur?

Republicans more likely to anticipate political violence

Among Republicans, MAGA believers more likely to anticipate political violence

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

More MAGA Republicans hold these views than other Republicans.

What percentages of these groups endorse political violence for at least some objectives?

Nearly half of strong Republicans say political violence could be justified

6 in 10 MAGA Republicans support political violence

To more deeply understand people’s views about potential political violence, we offered them 17 different political objectives and asked, in a series of questions, whether achieving each objective would justify violence.

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

These were the 17 objectives:

  • To return Donald Trump to the presidency this year
  • To stop an election from being stolen
  • To stop people who do not share my beliefs from voting
  • To prevent discrimination based on race or ethnicity
  • To preserve an American way of life based on Western European traditions
  • To preserve the American way of life I believe in
  • To oppose Americans who do not share my beliefs
  • To oppose the government when it does not share my beliefs
  • To oppose the government when it tries to take private land for public purposes
  • Stop voter fraud
  • Stop voter intimidation
  • Reinforce the police
  • Stop police violence
  • Stop illegal immigration
  • Keep borders open
  • Stop a protest
  • Support a protest

Almost half of strong Republicans and more than one-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 said at least one of those goals justified violence.

What percentages of these groups predict they will be armed in circumstances where they view political violence as justified?

Republicans more likely to carry guns, but nobody expects to use them

MAGA Republicans more likely to be armed, but not threaten

Large majorities of Americans of all political stripes say they do not expect to be armed with a gun, even in situations when they view political violence as justified. And almost none of them – even among MAGA Republicans – expect to threaten someone with a firearm.

What percentages of these groups believe there should be armed patrols at polling places?

Most Americans don't want armed patrols at polling places

2 in 10 MAGA Republicans say armed citizens should patrol polling places

The vast majority of Americans oppose the idea that armed citizens should patrol polling places on Election Day. The majority of MAGA Republicans object to it, but just under 40% of them say it either should happen or should be considered.

Garen Wintemute is the Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine; Director, Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, DavisThis article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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  1. The drive to make language PC in public will skew any answer that could be controversial. If it becomes unpleasant to speak your mind, no truth will be heard.

  2. When you say that most political violence in recent years has been perpetuated by Republicans, you must be throwing out the summer of 2020. There was more violence by Democrats in that year than by any group in the entire decade

      1. Was it the proud boys in large American cities, such as Kenosha, burning or trying to burn a police station? Was it them attempting to murder cops in Seattle by gluing locks on the downtown police station and trying to set IT on fire? Fact is, the media along with sleepy Joe pretended Antifa was just a theory. While cities were burned and looted, you must’ve been busy, looking the other way.

  3. How is the the idea that anti-white discrimination “is as big a problem as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities” a racist belief? Ironically that kind of foolish dismissal is part of the reason that people believe in the idea in the first place. In just a few weeks time the Supreme Court is set to overturn affirmative action in schools, a policy that is objectively and systemically racist against whites.

  4. Interesting
    UC Davis’s Dr. Garen Wintemute runs something called the Violence Prevention Research Center. Translation: he’s a hoplophobic grifter with a university sinecure who sucks up millions of dollars to keep his anti-gun rights operation going thanks to the largesse of like-minded individuals, foundations and, of course, California tax payers.

  5. So, ascribing to the belief that discrimination against whites does exist in America is “seen as extreme or racist by experts.” I guess none of these so-called “experts” saw all that rioting in cities across the USA in mid-2020…or was aware of racial bias in college and university admissions…

    Nope, no bias there…and this is where I stopped reading this skewed drivel being passed off as “research.”

    As the old axiom states: “Figures don’t lie — but liars figure.” (and the Dems, and their propagandists in the mainstream media and Hollyweird, sure can figure!)

  6. “The government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-
    worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

    Like Bill Clinton and Bill Gates being frequent visitors to Epstein island?

  7. Statement: “In America, native-born white people are being replaced by immigrants.”
    Like the Democrats are constantly bragging?

    1. Modern Democrats have always denied what they are.

      Seditionists, traitors, Anti-American Scum, Ignorant Fools, and vile dregs of society that should be shunned at all costs.

  8. What’s the methodology. I can tell this is a “California survey”. These results are pure BS. 15% are MAGA Republicans?
    No, actually I think it’s only 2%. In fact there’s an old man down the street who lives alone with a dog. He’s the only one around here.
    I’m being sarcastic of course. MAGA Republicans make up at least a third of the electorate.

    1. I am brown (not white). I don’t support violence and I believe violent organizations like BLM and ANTIFA were supported by the Democrat powerbase. I don’t support racism, I support honest and fair elections, I believe J6 was horrific but help from Democrat government agitators. I believe the 2020 election was riddled all kinds of issues. These issues should have been investigated by a bipartisan congress. I prefer Lake and DeSantis over Trump, but I agree with many MAGA positions

  9. All Americans should believe in Make America Great Again, why wouldn’t you? Amazing to me the Democrat party has attempted to turn a positive movement into something bad. It just isn’t.

    1. Why would anyone support someone like trump? make America Great again sounds like you are saying America is not great. That is where you are wrong and anyone who thinks America is not great has some serious issues. The fist time I was eligible to vote Reagan was on the ticket. I would bet every penny I have or ever would have that he would never support someone as narcissitic or sanctamonious as trump. Nikki Haley, would be a great choice. as painful ias it may be I would even support Desantis. I will vote for anyone on the ticket other than the worst human on earth if trump is on the ticket. He will never be re-elected.

      1. Not only isn’t “”American great” under Biden and the Leftists, it isn’t even America!

      2. I think Trump is an arrogant pompous ass. However, he is a leader. Something we have not seen for a long time. I would say the supreme court was his best and lasting accomplishment for anyone that considers themselves conservative. His arrogance on the world stage seems to have been more effective than what we have currently.

      3. I could really care less what Ronald Reagans opinion would be, being that I have my own opinion. In one of the Bushes?
        They are sold out to the Global Elites. 2024 I want no one else but Trump or DeSantis.
        If Jed Bush is on the ballot, I will NOT vote.

  10. When America sees liberals just being themselves, they run the other way.
    P.S. conservatives don’t do polls. Enjoy the fail.

  11. I love the bogus race questions. Regarding whites being discriminated against, affirmative action cases aside, the question should’ve been about cultural racism toward whites but of course they’ll never consider that because it’s now considered culturally acceptable. Whites being replaced by immigrants isn’t even up for debate, that’s just stats and leftists celebrate it. The question should’ve been how many see whites being replaced as a positive thing, then it would be interesting to know out of that what percentage are self hating white trash leftists.

  12. I could really care less what Ronald Reagans opinion would be, being that I have my own opinion. What about the Bushes?
    They are sold out to the Global Elites. 2024 I want no one else but Trump or DeSantis.
    If Jed Bush is on the ballot, I will NOT vote.

  13. A civil conflict would target the tech grid, since that’s what really runs the country. Whether it’s IT pros, or backhoes, disruption would be easily achieved. Democrats primarily are in cities (70% of the real estate votes 70% against Democrats). Without their God Microchip, they wouldn’t be able to communicate, conduct commerce, or most importantly, entertain themselves. It wouldn’t take too many incidents before city Democrats stopped enforcing rules and mandates in enclaves where they don’t hold sway. This would happen on an intrastate level as well as a ‘free states’ movement. Think de facto secession.

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