Half of the Republicans who saw a threat to democracy on Jan. 6, 2021 have changed their minds

Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
January 06, 2022, 3:31 PM UTC

Nearly one year following the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, Americans remain steady in their belief that the event was a threat to democracy—though half of the Republicans who once viewed it as such are no longer convinced. 

In the hours following the January 6, 2021 Capitol takeover, YouGov asked 1,448 registered voters their views on the events occurring that day. Almost one year later, YouGov re-interviewed 826 people from the original group to find out whether their opinions had shifted. 

Immediately following the attack, 64% of registered voters called the act “a threat to democracy.” A majority (60%) still say that one year later. Republicans were the most likely political group to change their minds about whether the attack represented such a threat.

Overall, the people who participated in the attack are still broadly seen as extremists and domestic terrorists. The registered voters who were surveyed in the last week apply similar labels to the people who stormed the Capitol as they did a year earlier. Compared to last year, participants in the January 6, 2021 takeover are now slightly less likely to be labeled as “anti-democratic” and slightly more likely to be referred to as “looters.”

When asked if and to what extent Joe Biden is to blame for the Capitol attack, most people responded similarly to how they did a year ago. Democrats are slightly less likely to say Joe Biden is “not at all to blame” now (81%) than they were on the day of the attack (86%). Republicans, on the other hand, are now slightly more likely to say Biden is “not at all to blame” (34%) compared to a year earlier (26%). 

Compared to one year ago, registered voters are now less confident that no fraud took place in the 2020 presidential election. In January 2021, 44% of people said that no election fraud had occurred, relative to 31% who said the same in the past week. While Republicans continue to share a consensus that enough fraud occurred to change the 2020 election outcome, Democrats have become more divided on the issue. Right after the 2021 Capitol attack, 76% of Democrats said that no election fraud occurred. Now, only 53% of Democrats say this is the case. A still-negligible share of Democrats say enough fraud took place to change the outcome.

One near-consensus finding from our most recent survey is that very few people in either major party say they are likely to participate in a similar attack if they believe an election is decided unfairly. Only a small fraction of registered voters said they would definitely (2%) or probably (5%) participate in activities similar to those occurring on January 6, 2021.

Methodology: This most recent YouGov survey was conducted among a representative sample of 826 U.S. registered voters interviewed December 31, 2021 - January 4, 2022. Respondents were previously interviewed by YouGov on January 6, 2021 about the same topic. For this analysis, YouGov focused only on the responses of the 826 re-contacted panelists—now, and a year earlier. Both surveys were carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted on age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity to be nationally representative of registered voters in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.  

Image: Getty