Poll shows disturbing level of support for political violence

A new poll finds that one in three Americans believe violence is justified if U.S. leaders fail to protect the country, a finding the pollster described as "scary" and that comes weeks after five people died in connection to a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Twenty-nine percent of those polled indicated they completely or somewhat agree with the statement: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”

The survey from the American Enterprise Institute also found that more than one in three Americans agree with the following statement: "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” 

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A majority, or 55 percent, of Republicans support use of force as a means to stop the decline of "the traditional American way of life," while 43 percent of Republicans express opposition to this idea. 

Daniel Cox, director of the AEI Survey Center on American Life, told NPR the survey was a "really dramatic" finding. 

"I think any time you have a significant number of the public saying use of force can be justified in our political system, that's pretty scary," he said. 

The poll was released as the Senate considers whether to vote to convict President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE for inciting a mob to attack the Capitol. 

Democratic impeachment managers have presented video showing people in the mob saying they were responding to Trump's calls. Some on camera said they wanted to show Trump what they are doing.

Seventeen GOP votes would be needed to secure a conviction, and it does not appear that that many Republicans will vote to convict in the trial, which could end in a vote as soon as Saturday.

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The new poll found that more than half of Americans reported feeling relieved, at 36 percent, or excited, at 14 percent, about Joe BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE becoming president. At the same time 66 percent of Republicans say Biden’s election win was not legitimate.

The poll found nearly two-thirds of Republicans say they believe widespread voter fraud occurred during the 2020 election, compared to only 22 percent of independents and 2 percent of Democrats.

There is no evidence that widespread fraud led to Biden's victory, and challenges from Trump and his allies have repeatedly been tossed by courts around the country.