Wednesday, October 20, 2021


The key numbers in the Quinnipiac poll that was released yesterday got some attention: 78% of Republicans want Donald Trump to run for president in 2024 but 58% of respondents overall don't; Joe Biden has a 37% job approval rating and a 52% disapproval rating (bad, but comparable to Trump's 38%/56% approval/disapproval in a Quinnipiac poll released October 11, 2017); and Trump is unpopular as well (39% favorable, 52% unfavorable), which means we should expect a great deal of punditry soon lamenting the two-party system and telling us that a third-party centrist can save us.

But I want to point out some of Quinnipiac's numbers about the January 6 Capitol riot. I often tell you about polls in which Democrats and independents largely agree, while Republicans are the outliers. But in the case of January 6, it's Democrats who are mostly out of step.

Quinnipiac asked:
As you may know, a special congressional committee is investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol that occurred on January 6th and it has issued several subpoenas to witnesses as part of its investigation. Do you want to hear more information about what led to the events of that day, or do you think enough is already known about what led to the events of that day?
Overall, only 40% of respondents want to hear more about January 6; 56% don't. Most subgroups don't want to hear more: Only 40% of under-35s want more information, and only 45% of women. Blacks and Hispanics are less interested in uncovering additional information about January 6 than the general population -- 34% and 33%, respectively -- even though they're less favorable toward Trump than whites. Only among Democrats (59%) and white college graduates (57%) is there majority support for further investigation of January 6.

This isn't because respondents have positive feelings about what happened on January 6 -- overall, 59% of respondents consider January 6 "an attack on the government"; 57% believe Trump bears a lot (42%) or at least some (15%) of the responsibility for what happened; and 51% believe that Trump has been undermining democracy since the 2020 election (as opposed to 39% who say he's been protecting democracy). Majorities of independents and both men and women believe what happened that day was an attack on the government, and that Trump bears at least some responsibility; non-whites agree, including an overwhelming percentage of Black voters.

In other words, Americans aren't interested in hearing more about January 6 because they already know it was bad, and they already blame Trump.

I know many of you believe that the January 6 investigation is vitally important. My concern is that it's going to end in a muddle, the way the Mueller investigation and the two impeachments ended in a muddle, with dueling narratives and no accountability for the perpetrators.

The public knows January 6 was bad, and there really isn't much likelihood that we'll learn anything new about it that will drastically change our understanding of what happened. Republicans and members of the Trump family are extremely good at avoiding punishment for their misdeeds, and Democrats aren't good at bringing Republicans to justice. Meanwhile, America has many problems and a lot of discontent. So, sure, Democrats should persist in investigating January 6, but they should realize that what the public primarily wants from them is solutions to problems. Passing the Biden agenda should be the priority. Investigating January 6 is of secondary importance.


TO CLARIFY: I'm not saying that January 6 would be useless as a spur to election reform (although it ought to be only one of several spurs, given what Republicans are doing, and have already done, to democracy in the states they control). But endless hearings bogging down on the question of what precisely was said in a particluar Trump phone call to a particular aide or ally at 1:32 P.M. on January 6 could really be a colossal waste of time.

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