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Commentary By Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams

Most Recent Releases

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January 6, 2022

How Trump and Biden Voters View the Events of Jan. 6 By Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams


— The UVA Center for Politics/Project Home Fire survey/data analytics project asked Joe Biden and Donald Trump voters their opinions on the events of Jan. 6.

— Overall, about 30% of the combined group of Biden and Trump voters at least somewhat believe the rioters are “patriots” who should be applauded for their actions, while about 70% at least somewhat believe they are “insurgents” who should be criminally prosecuted. The single, biggest predictors of the patriots vs. insurgents divide: belief in or rejection of conspiracy theories and the “Big Lie” that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate.

— This “patriots vs. insurgents” divide reveals in the starkest terms that we are now a nation at war with itself. Our democracy is effectively being held hostage to whether voters believe in conspiracy theories and the Big Lie, or not. Collectively, this analysis of the Jan. 6 events highlights in stark detail how deep, wide, and dangerous our national divide has become.

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November 4, 2021

New Center for Politics/Project Home Fire Findings: Biden Voters More Likely to Value Compromise By Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams


When viewed without a party lens, there is majority support for aspects of the Freedom to Vote Act. But Joe Biden and Donald Trump voters express dramatically different opinions on this topic, and, by association, they have divergent viewpoints on the debate currently occurring in the U.S. Senate. (see Figure 1 below)

Opinions are even more polarized on legislation currently being considered at the state level. Biden voters perceive these efforts as tantamount to legalizing voter suppression and giving state legislatures a free hand to prevent certification of elections based on the suspicion of fraud alone. Trump voters view these efforts as necessary to protect against voter fraud and ensure the integrity of our elections. (see Figures 2 and 3 below)

Donald Trump and Trumpism sit at the center of the “why” behind the conflicting and contrasting viewpoints on this vitally important issue. Support for protecting and expanding access correlates with the belief that the reelection of Donald Trump would have resulted in lasting harm to the United States. These voters are programs voters who exhibit what we are calling a “multi-cultural populism” that supports government doing more to help people and views ongoing conflict as a harbinger of bad things to come. Conversely, support for a more restrictive view of voting rights and access correlates with the belief that there was a hidden “deep state” effort to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump. These are values voters who exhibit “nationalistic populism” leanings, are motivated by a shared identity, and embrace most aspects of what is commonly referred to today as Trumpism.

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October 7, 2021

Project Home Fire/Center for Politics Research Reveals Outsized Role Immigration Plays in Fueling our National Divide By Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams


— Joe Biden and Donald Trump voters feel strongly but in opposite directions on the topic of discrimination, with Biden voters expressing concern about discrimination against minorities, while Trump voters worry that discrimination against whites will increase significantly in the next few years. (see Table 1 below)

— Whereas Biden voters are animated by racial and social justice concerns, Trump voters fear they will suffer personally, socially, culturally, and economically from the effects of immigration. (see Tables 2 and 3 below)

— These conflicted attitudes yield major policy divisions. When asked which policy areas concern them most, Biden voters identify with combatting systemic racism and addressing racial diversity. Whereas Biden voters prioritize social justice concerns, Trump voters do not. In fact, across the almost 50 national issues and areas of personal concern surveyed (some of which are noted below), Trump voters are far and away primarily focused on one particular issue: immigration. (see Table 4 below)

— Cluster analysis reveals that while many voters are essentially closed off to direct appeals to compromise at this time in part because of their strong views on immigration, there are voters who are concerned about immigration but are also potentially more persuadable on this topic. They are open to messaging and policies that balance their interests with those of immigrants, helping them feel more safe and secure.

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October 5, 2021

Support for Secession Linked to Conspiracy Belief By Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams

Drilling deeper into a noteworthy finding from last week’s UVA Center for Politics/Project Home Fire report.


— Belief in conspiracy theories is most consistently correlated with Biden and Trump voters who favor secession.

— The majority of citizens who voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump in the last election, when combined, believe in at least one of the conspiracy theories (43% of Biden voters and 90% of Trump voters).

— But while the percentage of Trump voters who ascribe to these conspiracies significantly outpaces that of Biden voters, conspiracy-believing Biden voters are more likely to say blue states should secede from the union than are conspiracy-believing Trump voters likely to say red states should secede.

— Additionally, several other authoritarian beliefs are significantly more prevalent among voters who support secession.

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September 30, 2021

New Initiative Explores Deep, Persistent Divides Between Biden and Trump Voters By UVA Center for Politics

The University of Virginia Center for Politics has partnered with Project Home Fire, a new initiative dedicated to finding common ground in American politics, on an innovative new data analytics and polling project to explore the social, political, and psychological divides between those who voted for Donald Trump and those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020.