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Iowa Poll: Half of Iowans say Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol was 'an insurrection and a threat to democracy' – desmoinesregister.com

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Half of Iowans say the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to derail the election certification process was an insurrection and a threat to democracy, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows.
That includes 93% of Democrats, 50% of independents and 20% of Republicans.
Another 22% of Iowans say the event was unfortunate, but it’s in the past so there’s no need to worry about it anymore. And 18% say what happened was a political protest protected under the First Amendment. Five percent of Iowans say none of the options best reflects their views, and 4% are not sure.
Marianne Jones, a 57-year-old poll respondent from Iowa City, said the events of Jan. 6 were “a pretty clear picture of what a failed insurrection attempt might look like” — one she says could undermine the democratic process.
“I have grave concerns about future elections because now we’ve set this very dangerous precedent,” said Jones, a Democrat. “I think that we have a really big job to do to unpack this for a whole lot of Americans who truly believe that the election was stolen. And I think that, frankly, puts our democracy at risk.”
The poll’s results come as the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot nears and the first wave of rioters are sentenced for their roles in the melee.
Although the riots were at first met with near-universal condemnation across the political spectrum, the issue has morphed into a partisan lightning rod.
Democrats in Congress have convened a special commission to dig into the cause of the riots, as well as any potential ties between former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration and organized efforts to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. Republicans dismiss that congressional effort as pure politics. Meanwhile, many Republicans in Congress have downplayed or outright denied the violence, including ostracizing members of their party who continue to call for an accounting of the day’s events. 
Poll respondent Andy Bream, an independent from Urbandale, is among the Iowans who say it’s time to move on.
“The destruction of property is not something I’m OK with. The loss of life is not something that I’m OK with at all,” he said. “But I’m not OK with … what we’re attacking within the media. I do not agree with that. We are chasing that and that story alone. There’s other things that I’d rather have us as a country focus on than that whole situation — the Jan. 6 situation.”
Iowans’ views toward the attack on the Capitol also divide by educational attainment and by where they live. While 63% of those with a college or graduate degree view what happened as an insurrection, 44% of those without a college degree do. And while 62% of Iowans who live in cities view it as an insurrection, 35% of those who live in rural areas do. 
The poll of 810 Iowa adults was conducted Nov. 7-10 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
In the weeks after the election, Trump refused to concede his loss to then-Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. Trump encouraged his supporters to continue believing he had won, even as lawsuits and recounts confirmed Biden as the winner.
Trump’s supporters held “Stop the Steal” rallies and other protests around the country — efforts that culminated with a Washington, D.C., rally planned for Jan. 6, the same day Congress was scheduled to vote to ratify the Electoral College results and formalize Biden’s victory.
At the Capitol, the mob clashed with police, and many in the crowd forced their way inside, prowling hallways in search of Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” As vice president, Pence presided over the joint session of Congress held to certify the vote, and Trump supporters thought he should have acted to block the certification, which legal scholars have said he had no authority to do.
Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who was third in line to the presidency at the time, was whisked away by security officers and transferred to a secure location. Other members of Iowa’s congressional delegation sheltered in place as the mob stormed the building.
Grassley tweeted later that day that the riots were “an attack on democracy itself.” And Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said days later that it was “horrifying” to be in the Senate chambers as the mob swarmed outside the chamber.
“To everybody that thinks, ‘Oh, well that was OK, they just were a little exuberant,’ — no. This was anarchy,” she said.
When Congress reconvened later that night, every member of Iowa’s congressional delegation voted to accept the Electoral College results, even as some other Republicans objected.
Democrats in Iowa are in near-universal agreement in categorizing the day’s events as an insurrection and a threat to democracy, with 93% in agreement. Another 4% say it was an unfortunate event, but it’s in the past so there’s no need to worry anymore, and 1% say it was a political protest protected under the First Amendment. Among the remaining Democrats, 1% say none of the given options describes their thoughts, and 1% say they are not sure.
Fifty percent of independents call what happened on Jan. 6 an insurrection. Another 25% say it was unfortunate but in the past, and 14% call it a political protest. Six percent say none of the options fits, and 5% are not sure.
A narrow plurality of Republicans, 36%, say what happened was a protected political protest, and 32% say it was unfortunate but in the past. Twenty percent of Republicans categorize it as an insurrection and a threat to democracy, 7% say none of the options fits and 5% are unsure.
Among those who voted for Trump in 2020, 15% say it was an insurrection. The rest divide about evenly, with 37% who see it as an unfortunate event and 35% who see it as a protected protest.
Kevin Butters, a 57-year-old poll respondent from Ankeny, is among the Republicans who say the events of Jan. 6 were protected political protest.
He concedes that people probably should not have entered the Capitol that day, but he questions who exactly the intruders were.
“I want to know who those people are, that were breaking in,” he said. “It could be BLM. It could be antifa. I don’t know who it is. … I don’t think they were (Trump supporters), but I don’t know that.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee in March that the agency had no evidence that groups like antifa — a political movement of far-left militants who oppose neo-Nazis and white supremacists — were present Jan. 6.
Butters is also among the 26% of Iowa Republicans who say they’re more aligned with Trump than they are with the Republican Party. According to the poll, 61% of Republicans say they’re more aligned with the Republican Party. The margin of error for that question is plus or minus 6 percentage points.
“I don’t think there should be a Democratic or Republican Party,” he said. “I just think it should be, hey, what are your ideas and how do you follow through with those ideas?”
He said he sees Trump as being relatively moderate on major issues, and he doesn’t think Trump is to blame for what happened Jan. 6.
When it comes to that day, Butters said he has a lot of outstanding questions and is struggling to find satisfactory answers
“I want the truth,” he said. “That’s really what I want. And it’s hard to get the truth.”
The Iowa Poll, conducted Nov. 7-10, 2021, for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 810 Iowans ages 18 and older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cellphone numbers supplied by Dynata. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex, and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent American Community Survey estimates.   
Questions based on the sample of 810 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Questions based on the subsample of 658 likely voters in the 2024 presidential election have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.4 percentage points or 3.8 percentage points, respectively. Results based on smaller samples of respondents — such as by gender or age — have a larger margin of error.   
Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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