Looking back at Jan. 6 Capitol riot a year later, survey asks: Who’s to blame?

AP-NORC poll examines public’s views on those responsible for insurrection

As a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigates the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, most Americans recall a very violent day and support Congress’ investigation.

According to a new poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 80 percent of people surveyed consider the individuals involved mostly responsible, but 57 percent also say former President Donald Trump deserves a great deal or quite a bit of blame for the attack on the Capitol—more than said so at the end of January 2021. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the riot was extremely or very violent, and about 7 in 10 think Congress should continue investigating the events of Jan. 6.

Most Americans say the actual individuals who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 bear the most blame. Half of Republicans and more than three-quarters of Democrats say the rioters bear a great deal of responsibility for the insurrection.

Seventy percent of Americans think Trump bears at least a moderate amount of responsibility for the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than half who say he bears a great deal or quite a bit. Most Republicans don’t blame him, but about 4 in 10 think he bears at least a moderate amount of responsibility.

Last January, 50 percent of all Americans and 90 percent of Democrats said Trump had a great deal or quite a bit of blame for the attack by a group of his supporters. At that time, 71 percent of Republicans said he had little or no responsibility.

Overall, the public assigns less blame to either Republicans or Democrats in Congress. However, while 68 percent of Democrats say Republicans in Congress have a great deal or quite a bit of responsibility for the violence on Jan. 6, only 13 percent of Republican agree. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans attribute a great deal or quite a bit of responsibility for the breach to Democrats, and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

Democrats are much more inclined than Republicans to regard the uprising on Jan. 6 as extremely or very violent.

Opinions on the investigation also fall along partisan lines, with 96 percent of Democrats saying the Congress should continue its investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, versus only 41 percent of Republicans.

The nationwide poll was conducted Dec. 2-7, 2021 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,089 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

—Adapted from a story first published on the AP-NORC website.