Democrats hoped that the January 6 Committee’s public hearings would renew scrutiny on the events that day and reverse their fortunes in the upcoming midterm elections, amid President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings. But that does not appear to be happening.
Americans are less likely to blame former President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans for the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, than they were several months ago, according to a new poll taken after the first January 6 Committee hearing. The survey, commissioned by Yahoo News and administered by YouGov, found that just 39 percent of Americans said that Trump bore “a great deal” of blame for the riot, compared to 45 percent in a previous YouGov poll taken in December.
The December poll also found that 42 percent of Americans thought that “Republicans who claimed the election was stolen” had “a great deal” of responsibility for the attack while just 36 percent said that now. In December, a greater number of Americans said it was more important to hold those responsible for the riot accountable than it was to move on, 47 percent to 40 percent. Now that question is a statistical dead heat, 45 percent to 43 percent.
The poll, administered between one and three days after the first public hearing by the committee, found that one-quarter of Americans said they watched the hearings live, while nearly half said they had not paid them any attention at all. The remaining 27 percent said they caught some coverage of them after the fact. It interviewed 1,541 adults and has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
The survey also found a deep pessimism about the future of the country. Fifty-eight percent of Americans said that the U.S. is becoming less democratic, with Democrats and Republicans agreeing at roughly the same rate. Forty-six percent think a civil war is at least “somewhat likely” with only minimal partisan differences, 45 percent among Democrats and 52 percent among Republicans. Only 36 percent said a civil war was unlikely. Both Republicans and Democrats were most likely to describe the other party as “out of touch with reality” and “a threat to America.”
In a hypothetical rematch between Trump and Biden in 2024, the poll found Trump leading by 3 percentage points, 42 percent to 39 percent. Trump was buoyed by strong leads with Hispanic voters and independents, two constituencies he lost to Biden in 2020.
Voter attention appears to be most focused on economic issues. A recent Fox News poll found that 57 percent of Americans said that the current state of the economy is “poor,” with over half saying that the price of gas and groceries are a “major” problem. The most important issue to voters heading into the midterms is inflation and rising costs, while fewer than three in 10 approve of the way that Biden or Congress is handling the economy. Until that changes, it seems unlikely that any amount of January 6 hearings can reverse the Democrats’ fortunes.