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Photo: Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

About 1 in 3 Americans believe that "violence against the government can at times be justified," a year out from the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a poll by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland out Saturday found.

Why it matters: It's the largest share of respondents to hold that view in similar polls in the last two decades, according to the Post, which said the findings "offer a window into the country’s psyche at a tumultuous period in American history."

  • It comes after "last year’s insurrection, the rise of Trump’s election claims as an energizing force on the right, deepening fissures over the government’s role in combating the pandemic, and mounting racial justice protests sparked by police killings of Black Americans," writes the Post.

By the numbers: A majority of adults still say violence is never justified. But that number, 62%, is a new low, per the Post. Some 90% believed it was never justified in the 1990s.

  • The new poll found that 40% of Republicans and 41% of independents said violence can be acceptable, compared with 23% of Democrats. Forty percent of white Americans said violence can be justified, compared with 18% of Black Americans.
  • Flashback: The percentage of adults who said violence is justified was 23% in 2015 and 16% in 2010 in polls by CBS News and the New York Times respectively, according to the Post.

What they're saying: "People’s reasoning for what they considered acceptable violence against the government varied, from what they considered to be overreaching coronavirus restrictions, to the disenfranchisement of minority voters, to the oppression of Americans," the Post writes.

  • "Responses to an open-ended question on the survey about hypothetical justifications included repeated mentions of 'autocracy,' 'tyranny,' 'corruption' and a loss of freedoms."

Separately, a CBS News/YouGov poll out Sunday found that 68% of respondents believed the events of Jan. 6 were a sign of increasing political violence, rather than an isolated incident.

  • Sixty-six percent of respondents also said they believe that U.S. democracy today is threatened, and 62% expect violence from the losing side in future presidential elections.
  • At least a quarter of respondents denoted issues of civil rights, gun policies, abortion rights and labor policies as important enough that violence "might be justified, depending on the situation," per CBS.

Methodology: The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll was conducted online and by phone Dec. 17-19, 2021, among a random national sample of 1,101 adults. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of ±4 points.

The CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,063 U.S. adult residents interviewed between Dec. 27-30, 2021. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as to 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ±2.6 points.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

White House criticizes bleak “outlier” Quinnipiac Biden poll

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer O'Malley Dillon speaks with White House counsel Dana Remus last July. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House deputy chief of staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is publicly attacking a new poll that gave President Biden a 33% approval rating, using the full weight of her office to call it an “outlier,” according to a memo shared with Axios.

Why it matters: By releasing a memo questioning the Quinnipiac University poll’s methodology, the White House is demonstrating how seriously it takes negative perceptions of the president’s job performance at the outset of a critical midterm year.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.