20 percent say violence may be needed to get US back on track: Poll

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Just over 20 percent of Americans indicated that violence may be necessary to secure political objectives in 2024, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll

Roughly equivalent portions of Democratic and Independent respondents said that they see violence as an option, with 28 percent of Republicans agreeing violence may be a political strategy.

Previous reports like those from Johns Hopkins University’s Agora Institute have found experts in political violence believe it’s harming American democracy and especially the health of elections. More than half of those experts said elections have a high potential for disruption in the future. 

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And Republicans, especially Trump supporters, have little confidence in the fairness of American elections. According to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, more than half of Trump supporters indicated in January that they doubted votes would be accurately counted in the 2024 election.

Only 38 percent of Republicans said Joe Biden won the 2020 election in the Marist poll. 

The poll also found that an even larger percentage of respondents indicated they desire a leader who “breaks some of the rules to get the nation back on track,” with nearly 30 percent of Democrats indicating agreement, for example. 

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Over half of Republican respondents said so and over 40 percent of total respondents agreed that such a leader is needed.

An optimistic reading of the Marist poll would notice unity in the opinions of a majority of Americans, who still agree that violence is not justified to save the country, have friends with politics other than their own, agree President Biden won the 2020 election and that religion should not influence government policy, for example. 

“Regular Americans hold pretty mixed views and are not nearly as polarized even on things like abortion, gun control, immigration,” Rachel Kleinfeld, a democracy expert and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, previously told The Hill

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“Where we’re really failing is on emotional polarization. We just hate each other in part because we believe the other side has much different views, and because we believe the other side looks very different, are made up of very different types of people. Both the beliefs are untrue,” she said.

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