Jan 6 Hearings: ‘How Impenetrable Is the Tribalism?’
Ronald Brownstein for CNN recently reported on the January 6 hearings and the tumultuous information war surrounding the U.S. Capitol insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s role. Brownstein highlighted recent national polls finding that found that “about half or more” of Republican voters have described the insurrection in positive terms, while only a small percentage have said Trump deserves blame for the attack. Brownstein argues that the hearings could be the “most ominous measure yet available of how completely red and blue America have separated into divergent information bubbles.”
Brownstein cited PRRI research, noting that about two-fifths of Republicans say the source of television news they trust most is either Fox or networks to its right, such as Newsmax. Only one-fourth or less of those consuming Fox and far-right sources blame white supremacists for the attack, versus about three-fifths in the mainstream news group. Dan Pfeiffer, who was the White House communications director for Barack Obama, argues that the most militant elements of the Republican base are not only receiving, but also shaping the messages delivered by elected officials and conservative media. “This will tell us something that we don’t know right now: How impenetrable is the tribalism?” Robert P. Jones, founder and CEO of PRRI, told Brownstein.
Gun Owners Are More Likely To Have Other Gun Owners As Close Friends
PRRI Research Associate Diana Orcés recently analyzed Americans’ social networks and gun ownership in light of the recent slew of deadly mass shootings. Orcés examines data from PRRI’s recent social networks survey that consistently displays how “deeply embedded gun culture is in the United States.” For context, about one-third of Americans (34%) say they keep guns in their homes. Nearly six in ten white Republicans (58%), 54% of white evangelical Protestants, 46% of white men, and 45% of white Americans without a college degree report having guns in their homes or garages. About six in ten Republicans (59%) who own a gun (compared to 35% of all Republicans) say that most or all of the people in their close friendship networks own a gun, including 31% who say that all of the people within their close network own a gun.
White Americans (23%) are more likely than other racial groups to say that the majority of the people in their social networks own a gun. PRRI data from 2018 reveals that only 42% each of Republicans and white Republicans support stricter gun control measures, compared to the vast majority of Democrats (87%). The Washington Post reports that “hundreds of measures have passed in statehouse[s] across the country” during times like this in our nation’s history.
The Link Between Opposition to Abortion and Denying Structural Racism
According to recent data from PRRI, more than six in ten Americans (61%) oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, while just over one-third of Americans support overturning it (36%). PRRI Research Associate Ian Huff writes that, although the connection often goes unnoticed, those who are pro-life are significantly more likely than those who are pro-choice to deny the existence of systemic racism. Around three-quarters or more of white Americans who favor overturning Roe say that racial minorities use racism as an excuse more than they should (80%); nearly three-quarters of those white Americans disagree with the belief that generations of slavery and discrimination have had lasting effects on Black Americans’ success (74%). More than six in ten (63%) of the same group agree that discrimination against white Americans is as much a problem as discrimination against people of color.
A majority of Americans who “support overturning Roe do not acknowledge advantages that accrue to white Americans because of their race,” Huff writes. A slim majority (53%) agree that discrimination against white Americans has become as big a problem as it is for Black Americans and other minorities. Among those who support overturning Roe v. Wade, nearly nine in ten white evangelical Protestants (87%) say that racial minorities use racism as an excuse more than they should. With only a single exception, majorities of all white Christian groups who support overturning Roe v. Wade fall on the side of denying or failing to recognize the effects of systemic racism.