Public Reaction to the Storming of the Capitol

Wednesday, January 13, 2020

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted January 8-11, 2021. 104 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters, 103 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters, and 100 additional interviews were conducted among independents without a partisan lean.

Key takeaways

  • More than four in five oppose Trump supporters breaking into the Capitol, with more than three in five describing themselves as “horrified” and “shocked” by these actions.
  • Majorities of Americans support removing Trump from office before his term ends and oppose him running for president again or pardoning himself.
  • The greatest concerns following the storming of the Capitol revolve around the potential for more violence.

Capitol Raid is Universally Condemned

More than four in five oppose Trump supporters breaking into the Capitol Building.

  • Three in four Americans “strongly oppose” Trump supporters breaking into the Capitol Building, including 69% of independents and 57% of Republicans.

Most of the Country Watched the Storming of the Capitol and Felt “Shocked,” “Horrified,” and “Angry”

More than seven in ten report having watched “a lot” or “some” of the storming of the Capitol Building.

  • Among Republicans, 58% say they were “shocked” and 44% each say they were “horrified” or “angry.”

Top Descriptors of Storming the Capitol: “Trump,” “Terrorists,” “Criminals,” and “Dangerous”

With 89% of Americans having watched at least “a little” of coverage of the storming of the Capitol, top descriptors include “terrorists,” “criminals,” “dangerous” and “treasonous.”

Americans Feel Trump Should Have Done More to Stop Violence and Disapprove of His Response to the Riots

Two-thirds of Americans say Trump didn’t do enough to stop the violence and disapprove of his response.

  • Just half of Republicans say Trump did enough to stop the violence (50%) and less than half approve of his response (46%).

Most Place Blame on Trump and Republicans

Nearly three in five blame Donald Trump and Republicans for what happened after the Electoral College vote confirmation at the Capitol.

  • Among those who say Trump and Republicans are to blame, the majority (61%) blame Donald Trump himself, more than they blame Congressional Republicans specifically (3%) or both Trump and Republicans (34%).

Those Who Blame Trump and Republicans See Direct Link Between Promotion of Conspiracies and Violence at Capitol

Of those who blame Trump and Republicans for Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building, four in five say they blame them because they promoted conspiracy theories about election fraud.

“Rioters” and “Terrorists,” Not “Protestors,” “Demonstrators”

A majority say “rioters” and “domestic terrorists” describe the people who broke into the Capitol.

  • Less than a quarter say that “protestors” applies, including only 27% of independents and 29% of Republicans.
  • Among white Americans, 52% say they are “domestic terrorists” and 33% say they are “white supremacists.”

Majority View Rioters as ”Violent” and “Unamerican”

A majority of Americans say the Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol were “violent” and “unamerican,” with a near-majority also using “treasonous” and “frightening” to describe their actions.

  • On a separate question, among those who chose one of the negative terms below to describe their actions, 74% described it as a “riot,” 59% as a “terrorist attack,” and only 22% as a “protest.”

Top Concerns on the Storming of the Capitol: More Violence to Come and the Risk Posed to American Democracy

Among Democrats and independents, the top concern is that “Trump supporters will cause more violence”; among Republicans, the greatest concern is further violence against government officials.

Majorities Support Removing Trump from Office and Banning Him from Running Again

More than half of Americans support both removing Trump from office now and banning him from running for president again.

Few Support a Trump Self-Pardon, With Even Republicans Holding Mixed Views

Nearly three in five oppose Trump issuing a preemptive self-pardon before the end of his term as president, including half who “strongly oppose.”

  • Among 2020 Trump voters*, only 41% support Trump preemptively pardoning himself before leaving office.

As Trump Leaves Office, Three in Four Now Say Country “Off on the Wrong Track”

The share who say the country is “off on the wrong track” has reached its highest point in our Navigator tracking since March of 2020, with the share saying it is “headed in the right direction” also at its lowest point.

  • There is agreement across party lines: 77% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 77% of Republicans say the the country is off on the wrong track.

Trump to End Term at Record Low Job Approval

Trump is poised to end his presidency with his lowest job approval since Navigator began tracking in April 2018.

  • In contrast, 59% approve of how Biden is handling the presidential transition, while just 34% disapprove.

A Tale of Two Presidents: Public Hearing About Violent Insurrection on Trump; Pandemic and Stimulus on Biden

While 97% of Americans report hearing at least “a little” about Donald Trump, the vast majority report hearing mostly negatives: conversation revolves around the insurrection at the Capitol and his inciting of violence generally.

  • Four in five (79%) report hearing “mostly negative” things about Donald Trump, the highest it’s ever been in Navigator tracking.