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Study Finds MAGA Republicans More Likely to Support Delusional and Pro-Violence Statements

A recent study has shed light on the attitudes of a specific group within the Republican Party, often referred to as MAGA Republicans, towards political violence and democracy.

15% Adult US Population Are MAGA Republicans

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This research, published in PLOS One, indicates that this subset, constituting approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population, is more likely to endorse political violence and holds distinct beliefs about race and democracy compared to other Republican factions and non-Republicans.

Growing Concerns Over Political Violence

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The United States has experienced a surge in political tensions in recent years, exemplified by events such as the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021.

This has raised alarm among experts and researchers regarding the potential for widespread political violence, which can have significant immediate and long-term consequences for society and public health.

Study’s Objective

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In response to these concerns, researchers conducted a study to better understand attitudes toward political violence among various political factions, specifically focusing on MAGA Republicans.

This term is commonly associated with supporters of former President Donald Trump, who strongly dispute the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results.

Research Background

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Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, the Baker–Teret Chair in Violence Prevention and Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California, Davis, explained, “We do research on firearm violence and started work on political violence after noticing anomalies in gun purchasing trends… As public health researchers, we’re interested in variation in risk and in identifying groups at high risk to help guide prevention efforts.”

Methodology and Participants

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The research firm Ipsos conducted the survey online from May 13 to June 2, 2022.

It included 8,620 participants selected from Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel, representing a large and nationally diverse group of U.S. adults.

The study aimed to ensure a sample representative of the U.S. population.

Key Survey Measures

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The survey covered several key areas, including questions about democracy, American society, race and ethnicity, and attitudes toward non-political and political violence.

Questions Asked

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Participants were asked about their views on violence in different scenarios, such as self-defense, safeguarding democracy, and responding to perceived societal changes.

Additionally, the study explored beliefs related to the QAnon conspiracy theory and the ‘great replacement’ ideology.

Classification of Respondents

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To analyze the results, respondents were categorized into different political groups: MAGA Republicans, strong Republicans, other Republicans, and non-Republicans.

MAGA Republicans were specifically identified as those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and strongly disputed the legitimacy of the 2020 election results.

Unique Demographic Profile

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MAGA Republicans exhibited distinct demographic characteristics compared to other Republican factions.

They were more likely to be female and less likely to possess a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree or have a household income exceeding $150,000.

This demographic profile suggests the uniqueness of this political faction.

Attitudes Towards Democracy and Violence

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One significant revelation from the survey pertained to attitudes towards democracy and the use of violence.

Notably, 90% of MAGA Republicans perceived a significant threat to American democracy, a perception considerably higher than strong Republicans (74.4%), other Republicans (61.7%), and non-Republicans (70.1%).

Strong Leadership More Important than Preserving Democracy

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Additionally, 31% of MAGA Republicans believed that having a strong leader was more important than preserving democracy, surpassing the percentages of strong Republicans (17.8%), other Republicans (17.0%), and non-Republicans (15.2%).

The endorsement of armed citizens patrolling polling places was notably higher among MAGA Republicans (19.2%) than other groups.

Beliefs About Race

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The study also delved into race-related beliefs and the ‘great replacement’ theory.

Only 6.5% of MAGA Republicans strongly or very strongly agreed that white people have societal advantages over Black people, a stark contrast to the 62.6% of non-Republicans who held this view.

‘Great Replacement’ Theory

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Furthermore, 51.0% of MAGA Republicans strongly or very strongly believed in the ‘great replacement’ theory, suggesting that immigrants are replacing native-born white Americans.

This belief was far less prevalent among strong Republicans (23.1%), other Republicans (14.4%), and non-Republicans (7.0%).

Focus on QAnon Conspiracy Theory

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The survey also explored beliefs associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Here, 26.7% of MAGA Republicans strongly or very strongly believed that a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles controls U.S. institutions, a belief significantly less common among strong Republicans (5.4%), other Republicans (6.5%), and non-Republicans (5.6%).

Imminent Arrival of Rightful Leaders

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Similarly, 29.6% of MAGA Republicans strongly or very strongly believed in the imminent arrival of a storm that would restore rightful leaders, a view not as widely shared by other groups.

Support for Political Violence

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While overall support for political violence was relatively low across all groups, MAGA Republicans displayed a slightly higher inclination (3.3%) compared to strong Republicans (2.5%), other Republicans (1.1%), and non-Republicans (2.5%).

Justifying Violence

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Specifically, when it came to justifying violence to advance specific political objectives, 58.2% of MAGA Republicans believed it was justified, a significant contrast to strong Republicans (38.3%), other Republicans (31.5%), and non-Republicans (25.1%).

Divergence Between Beliefs and Personal Willingness

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Despite the endorsement of political violence as a concept, including its justification, the survey found that personal willingness to engage in such violence was low across all groups, including MAGA Republicans.

This suggests a gap between the theoretical endorsement of political violence and the willingness to participate personally.

Implications and Future Research

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The study’s results highlight the need for further in-depth research to understand the factors contributing to support for political violence.

This understanding is essential for developing targeted interventions aimed at preventing the transition from support for violence to active participation.

More Studies Needed

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Given the rising concerns over political divisions and potential violence in the United States, studies like this are vital in providing insights into the beliefs and attitudes underlying these societal challenges.

Clear Distinction Becomes Apparent

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The clear distinctions in beliefs and attitudes towards violence and democracy among MAGA Republicans, as revealed in this survey, offer a starting point for more extensive analysis and intervention strategies focused on preserving democratic values and curbing political violence.

Study Authors and Citation

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The study, titled “MAGA Republicans’ views of American democracy and society and support for political violence in the United States: Findings from a nationwide population-representative survey,” was authored by Garen J. Wintemute, Sonia L. Robinson, Elizabeth A. Tomsich, and Daniel J. Tancredi.

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