As the work of the Jan. 6 committee winds down, with a ninth hearing Thursday and a final report expected soon, there are signs that its work may have moved public opinion in a few ways.
First, the number of Republicans who believe the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump has dropped below the two-thirds mark. That still leaves a lot of Republicans who believe something that is not true, but the group has shrunk by several percentage points.
Over the course of nine public opinion surveys by Yahoo News/YouGov between January 2021 and early June 2022, the average number of Republicans who believed incorrectly that the 2020 election was rigged was 66%.
But in three Yahoo News/YouGov polls conducted since the Jan. 6 committee held its eight hearings from June 9 to July 21, the number of Republicans who believed Trump’s “big lie” had fallen to 60%.
As for Trump’s behavior around the event, survey data shows that attitudes about his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, have not shifted a lot.
But there has been a decrease of several points in the number of Republicans who are worried about the future of democracy. That may correlate to the lower number of Republicans who believe that the 2020 election was rigged.
Meanwhile, Democrats have grown more concerned about the viability of democracy by a few points.
Another significant data point is that Trump’s lead over his closest statistical rival for the Republican nomination for president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has narrowed over the last year.
Across eight Yahoo News/YouGov surveys in 2022, Trump’s support has stayed in the mid-40s all year, but DeSantis has crept up about 10 points, from the mid-20s to the mid-30s.
It’s plausible that the hearings conducted by the Jan. 6 committee have had an impact. The closest margins between the two came in surveys conducted during and after the committee’s hearings.
In a Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted a week after the last hearing in July, Trump led DeSantis 44% to 35% among likely voters.
The only time Trump’s support spiked up closer to 50% was after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home for top-secret documents in early August. But the most recent poll found his support back down to 46% and DeSantis at 34%.
Opinions about Trump’s responsibility for Jan. 6 have not moved much.
Three surveys by Yahoo News/YouGov in the summer of 2021 found that, on average, 42% of U.S. adults believed Trump was “a great deal” to blame for the attack. Another Yahoo News/YouGov survey in July 2022 found that number basically the same, at 43%.
Similarly, an Economist/YouGov survey in July 2022 found that 41% of adult U.S. citizens believed that Trump had “a lot” of responsibility for the Jan. 6 takeover of the Capitol. That’s the same number who held that opinion a week after the insurrection.
In the Yahoo News/YouGov surveys, Democrats went from 72% who blamed Trump “a great deal” to 75%, and Republicans went from 10% to 14%, a marginal increase. There was some notable movement among Republicans on the question of whether Trump was “not at all” to blame. That number decreased, from 51% to 43%.
Voters’ views on whether democracy is in trouble have also not moved that much. There are high levels of concern among all voters. But some polling shows that Democratic worries have increased slightly over the past nearly two years, while Republicans have grown slightly less anxious.
In January 2021, a CBS News poll found that 16% of 2020 Trump voters believed democracy and the rule of law were secure and 84% believed democracy was threatened. At that time, 32% of 2020 Joe Biden voters believed democracy was secure and 68% believed it was threatened.
Since then, Republican alarm has gone down only a few points, to 81% in a June 2022 CBS News survey, and Democratic concern has gone up a few points, to 73%.
In December 2021, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that 87% of Republicans were worried about “the future of U.S. democracy” and 84% of Democrats felt the same.
In September 2022, another Yahoo News/YouGov survey found that 82% of Republicans still felt concerned about the future of democracy, while 83% of Democrats did. Democratic fears among Biden voters, specifically, had increased from 88% to 90% over that period, while Trump voter concerns had decreased from 89% to 83%.
This may represent some impact from the Jan. 6 committee’s work, since one of its emphases has been that the 2020 election was not rigged or stolen, and that Trump knew this from the very beginning. The committee has relied on testimony from Trump’s own former advisers on the campaign and at the White House, as well as many other Republican officials.
If the Jan. 6 committee reduced the number of GOP voters who were deceived by Trump’s false and unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election, it might also have eased their concerns about the reliability of future elections.
There have been numerous articles in the media about the possible threat of Republicans overturning future elections to benefit their own party, so the higher levels of Democratic concern about the future of democracy may reflect a growing awareness of this.
But other polling data indicates that many Democrats are focused on the ability of voters to cast ballots, rather than the prospect of politicians meddling with results after ballots have been cast.
A Pew poll in August found that 83% of Democrats were confident that the fall elections will be “conducted fairly and accurately” but that only 66% think “all citizens who want to vote ... will be able to.” In that same survey, 55% of Republicans believed the election will not be fair, and only 45% thought it would be fair.
Still, the wording of that question does not speak to whether voters are worried about a fair election being overturned after the fact by politicians claiming fraud without evidence.