In early October 2021, Public Wise conducted a poll with Change Research on public opinion around the events of January 6 2021. Public Wise polling focused on how to characterize the events and participants, specific modes of accountability for participants and elected officials who took part in different aspects of January 6th, and the importance of remembering January 6th as a significant moment in American history compared to other recent important events.
In February 2022, Public Wise reran the poll to understand how U.S. public opinion around the events on January 6 has evolved in subsequent months. Public Wise included additional questions, among them a series of questions to measure belief in different types of conspiracy theories. This series was intended to test the hypothesis that people who believe in certain conspiracy theories are more likely to believe that violence against the government is justified and less likely to think it is important to hold those who participated in the events of January 6th accountable.
On Accountability for Participants in January 6 Events
- While in October 2021, 2.5 % of respondents were unsure about how important accountability was, by February 2022, 0% of respondents were unsure of their views on this question.
- The percentage of Americans who believe participants should be held accountable increased from 72.8% to 78.1%. This increase came both from respondents who were previously unsure and respondents who previously thought it was unimportant to hold participants accountable.
- There is an ideological split on views on accountability for participants, with almost all progressives and liberals seeing accountability as important, most moderates seeing accountability as important, and conservatives split on the question of importance of accountability.
On Elected Officials Who Support the January 6 Events
- People’s views on whether elected officials who supported the January 6 events should be allowed to remain in office vary widely according to what role the official played.
- Over 3/4s of respondents agreed that officials should not remain in office if they coordinated with protesters by providing information to protesters on how to move through the Capitol building. A majority of self-identified conservatives agreed that these officials specifically should not remain in office. Advance coordination continues to be the bridge too far.
- Just 41% of Americans believe that officials should not remain in office if they spoke at the Mall before the rally.
- Since October 2021, there has been a small increase in the amount of people who say officials who supported the Jan 6 events should not remain in office, and this is true for every type of support we polled about, including funding buses, providing logistical information about the Capitol, speaking at the rally beforehand, and voting against certifying the election.
- There remain large ideological splits around whether elected officials who supported Jan 6 should be allowed to stay in office. Large majorities of both progressives and liberals believe that these officials should not be allowed to stay, while moderates tend to be split, and only a minority of conservatives are opposed to these officials staying in office for most cases.
On Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Demands for Accountability
- Respondents who expressed belief in a wide variety of conspiracy theories are more likely to think it is not at all important for participants in Jan 6th to be held accountable if a court finds they broke the law compared to respondents who didn’t express belief in conspiracy theories
- Respondents who strongly agreed with the conspiracy theory that voting machines were changing votes to Biden in the 2020 election are also more likely to say that violence is justified to retake the government
- Respondents who strongly agreed with the conspiracy theory that voting machines were changing votes to Biden in the 2020 election are also more likely to say that they do not think it is at all important to hold participants in Jan 6th accountable if a court finds they broke the law