Today’s 21 million adamant supporters of insurrection also have the dangerous potential for violent mobilization. Our survey also asked pointed questions about membership and support for militia groups, such as the Oath Keepers, or extremist groups, such as the Proud boys, to which approximately, one million of the 21 million insurrectionists are themselves or personally know a member of a militia or extremist group. Six million showed support for militias and extremist groups. At least seven million of this number own a gun, and three million have prior US military service.
What’s driving people in the insurrectionist movement? Our survey looked closely at the beliefs, news sources, and party affiliations associated with the 21 million adamant insurrectionists.
The research shows, two central beliefs occur among adamant insurrectionists statistically significantly than more commonly found in the general population:
- 63% believe in the Great Replacement: “African American people or Hispanic people in our country will eventually have more rights than whites.”
- 54% believe in the QAnon cabal: “A secret group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is ruling the US government.”
These two fundamental beliefs do not fully overlap, suggesting complex, multiple pathways into the movement.
This reinforces our previous findings, already showing that we are dealing with a mass movement with violence at its core that does not fit earlier patterns of right-wing extremism. For example, we are not dealing with disaffected and unemployed young men, but mainly highly competent, middle-aged American professionals.
Concerning political affiliation, the adamant insurrectionists are not only Republicans.
While 51% self-identify as members of the Republican Party, 34% see themselves as Independents and 10% as Democrats.
All this tells us is that the insurrectionist movement is more mainstream, cross-party, and more complex than many people might like to think, which does not bode well for the 2022 mid-term elections, or for that matter, the 2024 Presidential election.
Ironically, the solution may be more local than national. Of the ardent insurrectionists, 47 percent see the Federal Government as an “enemy”, 56 percent feel the same way about state governments, but 73 percent see local governments as non-enemy actors. With the latter being the most trusted sources, mayors could have potentially out-sized influence over the future of the movement.
Without a sound risk analysis of the drivers of American political violence, it is hard to see how developing policies, far less strategies to mitigate the risk of future election-related violence, could be genuinely possible.
As the 2022 election season fast approaches — along with the potential for distorting election outcomes — understanding American political violence must surely be a national priority if democracy is to hold the line.
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