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U.S. Polls: Public Opinion and Right‐Wing Extremism

This research explored whether trends in right-wing political violence in the United States are related to trends in national polling data for issues linked to right-wing grievances. Repeated poll items related to right-wing extremism were identified in the American National Election Survey and the General Social Survey from 1970-2006. The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) was used to identify incidents of domestic right-wing terrorism over this same time period. The poll items were examined in relation to (1) changes surrounding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest right-wing incident in the U.S. to date, and (2) relationships over time with the prevalence of right-wing incidents in the GTD. Results suggest that polling trends—particularly trends in items tapping feelings that (1) government is out or control, (2) government is doing too much for minorities, and (3) financial circumstances have worsened —may provide new insight into trends in right-wing violence in the United States. Limitations of the study are discussed.

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Last Published Date: March 13, 2019
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