Opportunities for Accountability-related Conversations

Understanding Americans’ Views toward January 6
Policy Paper
June 8, 2022

Despite the national unity that initially followed the January 6 Capitol insurrection, conversations surrounding the attack quickly became politicized, the subject of heated disinformation, and polarizing as divergent narratives about “what happened” entrenched.

Developing a shared narrative of and ensuring accountability for–political violence is critical for its non-recurrence. In partnership with Over Zero and Protect Democracy, we conducted polling to understand how Americans are thinking about the events of January 6th, and identify alternative inroads for engaging cross-partisan Americans in conversations surrounding January 6 and related accountability efforts. This report is the first in a series of publications summarizing our findings.

We conducted this research via YouGov in January 2022 on a nationally representative sample of 1,274 Americans.

The report explores three main themes:

(1) Attitudes toward January 6: Americans across ideological lines harbor negative views toward the January 6 violence and support reforms to prevent its recurrence, including publishing a full record of what happened and the responsible parties. Still, amidst conspiracy theories casting doubt on efforts to investigate January 6, conservatives largely distrust the Select Committee, believing it is only interested in damaging Donald Trump.

(2) Responsibility: Americans tend to assign responsibility for the January 6 violence along ideological lines. Even so, there’s cross-partisan agreement that the protestors who forcefully entered the Capitol are responsible for the violence. However, Americans disagree on who comprises those protestors and on the legitimacy of the charges facing this group.

(3) Accountability-minded conservatives: While most conservatives are at least skeptical of the Select Committee, about one-quarter of conservatives are amenable to its work. We call this segment “accountability-minded conservatives” and believe that they can play a critical role in building and signaling cross-partisan support for accountability efforts. We focused on this group because it complicates the narrative that views toward January 6 fully fracture along ideological lines.