Supporters of President Donald Trump are not more likely than Democrats to see political rivals as a threat to the nation, nor are they more willing to accept rule-breaking, such as political violence, says a study by two university professors.
In fact, more Democrats than Republicans are willing to support violence if their side loses the 2020 election, says the study, titled “Lethal Mass Partisanship.”
The 2018 study debunks the widespread supposition among media analysts and Democratic partisans that Trump supporters are more violent than Democratic partisans. For example, CNN analyst Chris Cillizza relied on this fake news to explain why many Democrats rushed to believe the claim by actor Jessie Smollett that he had been mugged by two Trump supporters in the sub-zero streets of Chicago. Cillizza wrote February 19:
When actor Jussie Smollett said he had been beaten and left with a noose around his neck by two men shouting slurs and pro-Trump messages in Chicago last month, Democratic politicians couldn’t issue sweeping condemnations quickly enough.
On and on it went. Why? Because it seemed so ready-made for politicians hoping to make a point about the poisoning of our culture by Trump and his ilk: Smollett is gay, black and an outspoken critic of Trump. Of course Trump supporters reacted violently!
The academic study uses data extracted from two surveys to test the truth of claims that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to believe the other party is “a serious threat to the United States, [that] only ingroup partisans want to improve the country, and [to accept] breaking rules to oppose the outparty.”
The study breaks the media’s narrative by concluding that “warm feelings toward Trump are unrelated to all three items.”
The study also reported that Democrats were more likely to approve of violence than Republicans if the other party wins the 2020 election:
Nine percent of Republicans and Democrats say that, in general, violence is at least occasionally acceptable. However, when imagining an electoral loss in 2020, larger percentages of both parties approve of the use of violence – though this increase is greater for Democrats (18 percent approve) than Republicans (13 percent approve).
The data shows a 4 point jump among GOP partisans — from 9 percent to 13 percent — should the Democrats win 2020, but a 9 percent spike — among Democrats. The Democrats’ conditional acceptance of violence doubles, from 9 percent to 18 percent, should Trump win reelection in 2020.
The data is based on a 2017 survey of 1,000 people by YouGov.com.
When questioned by Breitbart News, the two authors downplayed their study’s conclusions that Trump’s partisans are not more supportive of violence than are Democratic partisans. Nathan Kelmore, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, told Breitbart News:
Overall, the lack of general party differences is consistent with several past studies testing less extreme versions of negative partisanship. For that reason, minimal party differences probably won’t surprise other scholars much …
We didn’t measure level of societal threat, making threats, or violent actions, so our evidence can’t generalize that far, but we don’t find any consistent partisan differences for these hostile and violent attitudes in the general public. Violent attitudes are uncommon, hostile attitudes are more common, but neither differs by party.
We measured 4 violence items, and for the other three, Republicans were marginally more approving of violence (threatening leaders, harassing people online, advocating partisan violence in general) than were Democrats. The Democrats only grow more approving when encouraged to think of losing the 2020 election. This is consistent with what we would expect the party out of power to do.
Read the study here.