Americans support a January 6 independent investigation, but it remains partisan

May 27, 2021, 3:30 PM UTC

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week to establish an independent commission to investigate the January 6 takeover of the Capitol Building, but there appears to be little chance of it passing the Senate, where ten GOP Senators would have to vote with the 50 Democrats to assure passage — something that at the moment appears unlikely.

In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, the public supports such an investigation by nearly two to one (56% approve, 30% disapprove). One in four Republicans (28%) supports that commission, as do four in five Democrats (84%) and half of Independents (51%).  

By two to one, Republicans view the protestors unfavorably (28% favorable, 57% unfavorable), but about half of the Republicans with unfavorable opinions say they are only “somewhat unfavorable” toward the protestors. These Republicans oppose the commission by wide margins. The only group of Republicans who support the commission are the 30% of them who have a “very unfavorable” opinion of those who took over the Capitol on January 6.  

Republicans with favorable opinions of the protestors (28% of all Republicans) also oppose the commission by wide margins. Three-quarters of Republicans (73%) say that those who participated in the takeover did not represent most of those who supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Just 18% of Republicans believe they do. But Americans overall are closely divided on this (42% vs 42%), mostly because two in three Democrats (66%) view those who stormed the building  as representative of most Trump supporters.  

Americans want those who stormed the Capitol prosecuted 

As many as 500 people may be arrested due to their roles in the January 6 riot, and Americans want them prosecuted (59%), including two in five Republicans (39%). Two-thirds of Republicans who have a “very unfavorable” opinion of those who took over the Capitol on January 6 (64%) want the individuals prosecuted. Four in five Democrats do too (82%). 

Most Republicans, including most of those with negative views of the protestors, do not hold Donald Trump personally to blame for the takeover. Three in five Republicans (60%) give him no responsibility for what happened, while one-third (33%) say he should bear even “a little” responsibility. Overall, half the public (51%) gives him at least some responsibility for Capitol takeover, with two-thirds of Democrats (66%) giving him “a lot” of responsibility for what happened.  

January 6th Commission
 

Opinions about the Capitol riot impacts opinion about several Republicans. Two Republicans who supported invalidating the Electoral College results, Senator Josh Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz, maintain high status with Republicans (though not overall).  

Two Republicans who condemned the attack, Senator Mitt Romney and Representative Liz Cheney, score higher with Democrats and Americans overall than with their fellow Republicans, including those Republicans with very negative opinions of those who participated in the Capital riot. 

The poll was conducted before the news that GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene had compared vaccine badges and mask requirements to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Her favorable ratings from Republicans before the controversy were positive (42%), though one in five Republicans (21%) held unfavorable opinions of her.   

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between May 22 - 25, 2021. This 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 citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.   

Image: Getty