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Most Say Political Anger Triggered Congressional Shooter

Friday, June 16, 2017

Most Americans think politics is to blame for this week’s shooting attack on Republican members of Congress and aren’t writing it off as just random violence.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 55% of American Adults believe the shooting incident was the result of political anger in this country. Only 28% think it was a random act of violence by an unstable person. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

By comparison, just 28% said the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six others in Arizona in January 2011 was the result of political anger.

It was quickly established that this week’s shooter, killed by police on the scene, was a Bernie Sanders supporter who had made numerous threatening comments on social media about Republicans and President Trump. However, Democrats (49%) and those not affiliated with either major party (51%) are much less likely than Republicans (68%) to attribute the attack to political anger. Democrats and unaffiliateds are more likely to be undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on June 14-15, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Just before Trump’s inauguration in January, 50% of voters said the United States was a more divided nation after eight years of the Obama presidency, but Republicans and unaffiliated voters felt that way much more strongly than Democrats did.  Things may have only gotten worse since then: Just two months ago, 61% of Democrats still believed that Trump did not win the election fairly last November.

There are sharp partisan differences on virtually all political issues now, including most recently the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Eighty percent (80%) of Americans say they have followed recent news reports about the shooting attack on the congressional Republicans and their staff members, with 49% who have been following Very Closely.  Just 16% have not followed these reports very closely, if at all.

Among those who have been following news reports about the incident Very Closely, 66% attribute it to political anger in the country.

Men are more likely to blame political anger for this week’s shootings than women are.

The older the adult, the more likely they are to be following the story and to believe that the latest shooting incident is a result of political anger in this county.

Only 37% of all likely voters believe the country is headed in the right direction, down from a high of 47% just after Trump took office in January. Still, that compares to 27% a year ago at this time.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) believe that politics in Washington, D.C. will become even more partisan over the next year.

Most voters agreed in late February that it was bad for America and bad for the Democratic Party if Democrats continued to flat out oppose everything Trump does.  Even Democrats were conflicted about their party’s scorched earth policy.

Forty-four percent (44%) of all voters believe most reporters are trying to block Trump from passing his agenda.  By comparison, 48% said most reporters were trying to help President Obama pass his agenda in 2010.

But the majority of voters also feel that the president is to blame for his bad relationship with the media, although they don't think there is anything he can do about it.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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