Americans Are Moving On From Jan. 6 — Even If Congress Hasn’t

Americans Are Moving On From Jan. 6 — Even If Congress Hasn’t

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.


There are still a lot of questions surrounding the final phase of the House committee established to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Namely, we don’t know exactly when it will be, though the committee reportedly wants to start public hearings in May.

It might be in the committee’s best interest to stick to that timeline, as the fate of the committee is uncertain if the GOP takes over control of the House next year. Moreover, many Americans want to move on from investigating the events of Jan. 6. A recent Navigator Research poll found, for instance, that 39 percent of registered voters thought the House committee investigating the attack was too focused on the past, compared to 49 percent who said the committee was doing important work. And a January poll from the Pew Research Center found that Americans were pretty divided over whether too much attention was being devoted to the insurrection: Thirty-five percent said “too much” attention had been paid to the attacks, while 33 percent said the “right amount” and 31 percent said “too little.” That said, in another January poll (this one from Quinnipiac), 44 percent of Americans thought it was time to move on, while 50 percent thought that the attack should never be forgotten.

The investigation has been going on for a while now, so it’s hard to know how engaged Americans have been. But the majority of Americans are paying attention to some recent developments. The Navigator poll found that 53 percent of respondents had heard “a lot” or “some” about a federal judge ruling that former President Trump more likely than not broke the law in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, in line with what a recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found (52 percent of registered voters said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” or “some” about the ruling). And per a recent poll from Quinnipiac, 59 percent of Americans said they had been following the committee’s actions “very” or “somewhat” closely.

However, some polls suggest that Americans have been holding Trump less responsible for the attack. The most recent polling we have on this question is from January, but at the time, Pew found that the share of respondents who said Trump bore no responsibility at all for the attack had grown by 8 percentage points from 2021 to 2022. Notably, the share of Democrats who said that Trump bore a lot of responsibility for Jan. 6 declined by 11 percentage points.

To be sure, most Democrats still strongly disapprove of Trump’s actions. That Quinnipiac poll found, for instance, that 87 percent of Democrats thought that Trump had committed a crime. But Americans overall are divided on this question. Ninety percent of Republicans in that poll said that Trump didn’t commit a crime. Independents are split, with 46 percent thinking that Trump committed a crime and 47 percent thinking he did not. Overall, 46 percent of all respondents said they thought Trump had committed a crime, and 48 percent said they thought he did not.

This doesn’t mean, though, that Americans — including Republicans — approve of what happened on Jan. 6. In the Navigator poll, for instance, just 26 percent of Republicans said they supported the actions of those who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, while 65 percent opposed them.

But just because most Republicans don’t approve of what happened on Jan. 6 doesn’t mean they support the House committee further investigating it. That Navigator poll found Republicans were equally split between supporting or opposing the committee’s work (45 percent each), while a January Quinnipiac poll of registered voters found that 60 percent of Republicans opposed the investigation

Moreover, regardless of whether they support what happened on Jan. 6 or continuing to investigate it, a majority of Republicans still believe what drew Trump’s supporters to the Capitol in the first place: Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. Support for Trump’s Big Lie has remained consistently high among Republicans — in the first Economist/YouGov conducted after the election, 82 percent said President Biden did not legitimately win; 73 percent said the same in the most recent poll.

Overall, this paints a picture of a Republican Party that might not fully support what happened on Jan. 6 but is very much ready to move on and, broadly speaking, still backs the former president. And with such a large share of Americans having already made up their mind on this issue, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which revelations from the Jan. 6 committee change people’s minds significantly.

Other polling bites

  • A judge ruled on Monday that federal mask mandates for airplanes and public transportation were unlawful. Many companies have already moved to lift their mask requirements, but the majority of Americans still appear to be in favor of a mask mandate when it comes to public transportation, according to an April 14-18 poll from AP-NORC. Fifty-six percent of adults said they somewhat or strongly favored requiring people to wear face masks when traveling on airplanes, trains and other forms of public transportation. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had elected to extend the federal mask mandate for transportation, just five days before it was struck down, 59 percent of registered voters approved of the decision according to an April 15-17 poll from Morning Consult/Politico.
  • When it comes to the national long-haul trucker shortage, Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of lowering the required minimum age to apply for a commercial driver’s license from 18 to 16 in order to address the issue. According to an April 17-18 poll of registered voters from NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ, 71 percent of respondents said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to this. Americans didn’t seem to be fond of the prospect of self-driving trucks, either — 65 percent said they would feel not at all or not too safe driving if self-driving trucks were on the road.
  • As FiveThirtyEight wrote earlier this week, support for legalizing marijuana is high across all 50 states. In fact, according to a March 29-31 poll from CBS News/YouGov, support for legalization is virtually identical in states where recreational cannabis is legal (66 percent) and where it isn’t (65 percent).
  • 4/20 isn’t the only thing that has people seeing green — Earth Day is 4/22. When it comes to personal concerns over climate change, Americans were in the middle of the pack internationally. In a poll of over 23,000 respondents in over 31 countries, conducted Feb. 18-March 4 by Ipsos, 38 percent of Americans said they had worried a great deal or a fair amount over climate change in the last two to three weeks. This was higher than the share in China (28 percent) or Russia (29 percent), but lower than many other countries like France (45 percent) or India (63 percent). Respondents from Latin America were the most concerned about climate change by far, with a majority in every country polled expressing worry about climate change in the last few weeks, ranging from 53 percent in Brazil to 71 percent in Colombia.
  • Republican voters are split on the Republican National Committee’s recent decision to ban GOP presidential candidates from participating in official debates, according to an April 15-17 poll from Morning Consult/Politico. Thirty-seven percent supported this decision, while 34 percent opposed it and 29 percent were undecided. In total, 80 percent of Republicans said it was very or somewhat important for presidential candidates to participate in debates, versus 83 percent of all voters who said the same.

Biden approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker,1 41.8 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 52.3 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.5 points). At this time last week, 41.5 percent approved and 52.2 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -10.7 points). One month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 42.2 percent and a disapproval rating of 52.8 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.6 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot,2 Republicans currently lead by 2.3 percentage points (44.6 percent to 42.3 percent). A week ago, Republicans led Democrats by 2.2 points (44.7 percent to 42.5 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Republicans by 2.3 points (44.9 percent to 42.6 percent).

CORRECTION (April 22, 2022, 1:58 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that 48 percent of Americans in a Quinnipiac poll thought Trump committed a crime regarding his involvement with Jan. 6. In fact, the poll found that 48 percent of Americans thought Trump did not commit a crime.

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