The storming and brief occupation of the US Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump has attracted more or less universal condemnation from the media and political establishment (however equivocal, lukewarm, or clearly sympathetic some of it it may be) — unless you count Trump himself (or Miranda Devine). But how is this playing with Trump’s base in the red states?
Certainly, as CNN walked around the riots yesterday, many protesters expressed pride and excitement at what was happening. Bear in mind, this wasn’t the types dressed as Vikings or those wearing clothes branded with “Camp Auschwitz”. CNN’s focus was largely on calm, polite middle-aged folk.
In Alabama — a state which was home to one of the four rioters who died, this person apparently of a heart attack — a group of returning protestors denied that the riots represented an attempted coup, but told the media “this is only the beginning“.
Guy Rundle pointed out yesterday that there was a little-noticed sister protest at the Kansas statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. But militias also surrounded the state capitol buildings in the purple and blue states of Georgia, Oregon and California.
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In Mississippi, the divided house was acted out by players on the Mississippi state football team arguing over the media depiction of the riots, whether it was planned, and racial double standards.
Broadly though, Trump’s base has stood by him as it always has, and, we have to conclude, always will. Just as half of the Republicans who were polled by Ipsos/Reuters in mid November believed that Trump had “rightfully won” the election, most Republican voters are fine with what happened yesterday.
According to YouGov polling, 68% of Republicans don’t see the storming of the Capitol building as a threat to democracy (as opposed to 93% of Democrats and 55% of independents who do). Indeed, 45% of the Republicans surveyed actively support it.
In both of the above polls, the overall majority of those questioned condemned the riots and believed Joe Biden won fairly. But yesterday illustrated what the portion who don’t are capable of, and what kind of resistance they are likely to face.