A Disturbing Poll in the Aftermath of the Attempted Assassination of Brett Kavanaugh

A Disturbing Poll in the Aftermath of the Attempted Assassination of Brett Kavanaugh. By Matt Margolis.

The attempted assassination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh should have universally shocked Americans. …

But:

According to a recently released poll, nearly half of male Democrats under the age of 50 (44 %) say it’s acceptable to assassinate a politician “who is harming the country or our democracy,” the highest percentage of any age/gender/party demographic.

Nearly a third of younger Democrat women and younger Republican men agreed with the statement, as did 40% of younger Republican women. …

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the poll is the generational difference. Older men and women of either party are significantly less likely to approve of the assassination of political opponents than their younger counterparts.

Party identification aside, it is clear that the younger generations are not being taught to respect the lives of others, particularly of their political opponents. …

More about the poll, by Tulchin Research for the SPLC, by Cassie Miller:

Our survey found that Republicans and Democrats are not only extremely distrustful of each other, but that majorities believe that people on the other side of the aisle are immoral and “want to harm people who disagree with them.”

Sixty-three percent of Republicans say Democrats are a threat to the country, while 67% of Democrats believe the same about the opposing party.

While each side views the other as similarly threatening, Republicans rank “extremists in the Democratic Party” as the most pressing threat facing the country, while Democrats believe the top three threats, in descending order, are Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and extremists in the Republican Party. …

In perhaps a telling sign of the deep antagonism partisans feel for one another, more people approve of threatening or assassinating politicians they deem harmful than approve of destroying public or private property as a form of protest. …

Not all of those who say they approve of violent actions are willing or able to commit them personally. The decision to carry out political violence depends on a multitude of factors, including opportunity, means and the broader political environment. But we do currently live in a moment when political leaders are leaning into violent rhetoric, meaning the social sanctions against violence could be eroding and, in the process, creating an atmosphere more conducive to acts of political violence.

The approval of partisan violence is much higher in the young. Is this a recent development, which would point to a future of increasing political violence and perhaps even war, or is it just the normal result of growing older and wiser?