A look at how Americans have viewed the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — CBS News poll analysis

Ahead of the House select committee’s first public hearings on its investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, most Americans — 70% — think it’s at least somewhat important to find out what happened on that day and who was involved, according to a recent CBS News poll

But Republicans don’t see it as important. They are more divided, with a slim majority saying it is not very or not at all important to find out what happened. Few Republicans think it’s very important. This is reflective of the way many Republicans have viewed what happened that day. Most have said they don’t see it as an insurrection and don’t want their party to focus much on it. 

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CBS News has polled on the events related to Jan. 6, 2021, measuring reaction to the attack and how it has impacted Americans’ views of U.S. politics and democracy.

Here’s some of what we’ve found:

  • The actions of those who forcibly entered the Capitol that day have been met with widespread and bipartisan disapproval from the American public — this was the case in the immediate aftermath of the attack and in polling conducted a year later.
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Jan. 6: Differences in views of what took place that day

  • Most Americans have described what happened on Jan. 6, 2021 as an insurrection and have said it was an attempt to overturn the election and the government. But just about one in five Republicans have seen it that way. Nearly half of Republicans have said what happened at the Capitol was patriotism, and a majority of them have described it as protecting freedom. 

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  • Republicans’ views on what happened on Jan. 6 are largely driven by how they see the 2020 presidential election. Soon after the election and earlier this year, most said they believe there was widespread fraud in 2020, and most Republicans have consistently said they don’t consider Joe Biden to be the legitimate winner. 

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  • And since partisans see the outcome of the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6 differently, that’s reflected in how important finding out more about what happened on Jan. 6 is to them: Democrats think it’s’ more important than Republicans do.

The Trump factor

  • Even though most Republicans don’t place great importance on investigating what happened on Jan. 6 and continue to believe fraud was widespread in 2020, our recent poll finds most don’t want their 2022 nominees focused on the 2020 election. And they are divided over how much they want to to hear about loyalty to former President Donald Trump, who has continued to call the outcome of the 2020 presidential election fraudulent. 

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