Survey results help us capture public opinions at a given moment in time. 

Understood within these limitations, they can help us see how people are viewing issues and leaders and also help us to know when politicians don’t know what they are talking about when they claim to know what “the American people want.”

For both reasons I thought you might find these surveys interesting. 

Voting Trends

In the 2020 election there was a record turnout of 67% of eligible voters. That compares to around 61% in 2016 and 2012.

On paper, there are 72 million registered Democrats, 55 million registered Republicans, and 42 million registered Independents. In actual practice in 2020, 31% of Americans who voted were Democrats, 24% were Republicans, and approximately 32% were independents.

Also in 2020, 63 percent of African Americans voted (compared with 65 percent in 2008), 71 percent of whites voted, 59 percent of Latinos voted.  In 2016 the black vote was 59.6% and the white vote was 65.3%.

Voting Rights

A Pew Research Center survey taken in April found that Republicans increasingly oppose measures that would expand access to the ballot. Three years ago 57% favored allowing early and absentee voting without having to give a reason why. Now only 38% do.

That’s in contrast to 63 percent of all Americans who remain in favor of early and absentee voting. In general, a majority of Americans favor more access to voting while Republicans want less.

Domestic Terrorism

Surveys by Monmouth University and the Pew Research Center taken in March found that 70% of Americans believe the January 6 insurrectionists should be held accountable for their actions, and that same number said steps should be taken to ensure a similar attack doesn’t take place.

But the Monmouth poll found that 54 percent of Republicans said that too much attention was being paid to Jan. 6 and that 60% said white nationalism wasn’t a problem in the country. Some 40% of Republicans also said they considered the anger that led to the violence on January 6 to have been partly justified.

Just for historical perspective, a CBS News survey taken ten years ago asked the question: “Do you think it is ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the government, or is it never justified?

Sixteen percent (16%) of all Americans said yes. As reported by Daily Kos in January, 2011, that 16% was political divided as follows:

– Republican 28% yes, 64% no

– Democrat 11% yes, 81% no

– Independent 11% yes, 81% no 

Christian Attitudes on Domestic Terrorism

It really gets interesting when Christians are asked if they think violence against the government is ever justified as did a Baylor Religion survey taken in January of this year.

It found that only 11% of Democrats who attend church weekly said yes while 31% of Republicans said yes.

The percentage among Democrats who never go to church rose to 26% and among Republicans who never go it rose to 37%.

If you eliminate the political affiliation of Christians, 22% of those people who attend church weekly said violence against the government was justified; 38% who never attend church said it is.

Overall, this survey shows that the percentage of people who believe violence against the government is justified at least sometimes who never attend church is much higher than people who attend church weekly.

That makes sense to me because Christians in general believe in democracy because they believe individual freedom is a God given right. You don’t have to go to church to believe the same thing, but the survey suggests it helps.

Unfortunately, among those who are politically affiliated, party loyalty changes that dynamic. More Christians who are Republican believe violence against the government is justified than Christians who are Democrats.

In other words, the more one attends church, the less likely he or she is to support violence against the government, but that changes when political affiliation influences how they see issues more than Christian teaching.  

It is no surprise, then, that the percentage of evangelicals who believe violence against the government is justified is higher than it is among non-evangelical Christians.  

Of course, I am citing conclusions these surveys provide without breaking them down based on factors such as age, gender, race, education, geographical locations, and other factors that would tell us even more. 

That said, I find surveys like these both fascinating and informative for a given moment in time without drawing any definitive conclusions based on them for one very good reason:

The winds of change are always blowing and with it the way all of us see things.