More and more Americans are expressing support for political violence in the lead-up to the 2024 elections, according to a new national survey published today by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with the Brookings Institution.

Researchers found that the tension among American voters is high in anticipation of the upcoming presidential elections next year, with the majority of Americans believing that American democracy is under threat during the 2024 presidential elections. Approximately one-fourth of respondents stated that "true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save the country."

"I think we're in for a pretty tough election season between now and the presidential election in 2024," said Robert Jones, CEO and founder of PRRI, a non-partisan group that conducts research at the intersection of politics, culture, and religion.

According to the PRRI survey, 75% of respondents agreed with the statement that "the future of American democracy is at risk in the 2024 presidential elections." Democrats were more likely to hold this view, with 84% of them supporting it, but the majority of Republicans and independents also agreed with this statement.

The most concerning finding, according to Jones, is that an increasing number of Americans are expressing support for political violence. According to the survey, nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) agreed with the statement that "given how far things have gone, true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country." This is up from 15% in 2021.

In their statement, PRRI researchers mentioned that they asked this question in "eight separate surveys starting in March 2021." They stated that "this is the first time support for political violence has exceeded 20%" in their survey results.

Jones believes that these views are a symptom of the ongoing polarization in the country's politics. He also attributed it as a side effect of the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

"I think the temperature is high, and people feel that boundaries have been breached," Jones explained. "We really had our first non-peaceful transfer of power in recent memory in the last election, and I think that's still resonating years later and into this new election cycle."

While Americans across the political spectrum believe that American democracy is under threat in the upcoming year, support for political violence is largely divided along party lines.

Currently, one-third of Republicans support violence as a means to save the country, compared to 22% of independents and 13% of Democrats, according to the survey. Notably, Republicans who hold favorable views of Trump are "almost three times more likely than Republicans who have unfavorable views of Trump" to support political violence.

The survey also indicated a rise in the support for conspiracy theories among Americans, especially QAnon. PRRI reported a significant increase in the number of "believers in QAnon (from 14% to 23%)" since 2021, as well as a "decrease in QAnon rejection." However, Republicans still support the core beliefs of the QAnon conspiracy theory at twice the rate of Democrats.

Nevertheless, there were areas of consensus. The survey showed that the vast majority of Americans (94%) agree that "we should teach our children both the good and bad aspects of our history so they can learn from the lessons of the past," compared to only 4% who agree that "we should not teach children history that might make them uncomfortable or feel guilty about what their ancestors did in the past."

The survey also revealed that most Americans trust public school teachers to choose appropriate curriculum and oppose banning books that discuss slavery.

"The vast majority of Americans say that they really trust these professionals to choose appropriate books and curriculum for their children," said Jones. "So, you know, I think we're hearing very loud voices about what's happening in public schools, but by and large, Americans trust their teachers and really don't stand behind these bans."