Half of registered voters are worried about violence from militias

Linley SandersData Journalist
October 14, 2020, 12:53 PM UTC

A self-proclaimed militia group was arrested for domestic terrorism last week after allegedly plotting to kidnap the Democratic Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. On Thursday, an FBI agent revealed that the members had also discussed kidnapping the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, because of frustrations over state lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

About seven in 10 Americans (72%) have now heard about the arrest of the militia group in Michigan, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov Poll. Regular viewers of MSNBC (76%), Fox News (72%), and CNN (72%) are all similarly likely to have heard about the plot, and large numbers of Democrats (73%) and Republicans (67%) have also registered the news. 

That may explain why a slight majority (53%) of registered voters now say they are very or somewhat worried about violence from militia groups. Registered Democrats are notably more likely to be worried (66%) than Independents (50%) and Republicans (44%). About half (51%) of Republicans say they are only slightly worried or not worried at all about militia violence. 

Whitmer has criticized President Donald Trump for not condemning white supremacists and hate groups such as the Michigan militia groups, during the first presidential debate. When asked to disavow the Proud Boys supremacist group, the President told them to “stand back and stand by.” Whitmer said on CNN that “hate groups heard the President's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight.” 

Registered voters are split on whether President Trump has incited violence from militia groups (44%) or not (44%), but more believe he has than say Biden has incited violence from the anti-fascist protest movement called Antifa (27%). Nearly four in five Democrats (79%) say Trump has incited violence from militia group, while 80% of Republicans believe he has not.  

Most (55%) Republicans say Biden has incited violence by Antifa, while one in five (20%) disagree. Nearly a quarter (26%) are unsure. About four in five Democrats (82%) say Biden has not done this. 

More registered voters report being worried about militia violence (53%) than violence from Antifa (43%). There are political splits when it comes to which organization is feared more: Democrats are more worried about violence from militias (66%) than Antifa (29%), while Republicans worry more about Antifa (61%) than militia violence (43%).  

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Yahoo News/YouGov Poll  

Methodology: This Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,505 US registered voters interviewed online from October 9-11, 2020. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote, registration status, geographic region and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US registered voters. The margin of error is 4.3%. 

Image: Getty