Polls Tell Us The January 6th Committee Hearings Have Loosened Trump’s Grip On His Republican Base, But Social Media Tells a Different Story.
We examined over 5 million online posts to understand how Americans feel about the revelations from the January 6th Hearings; here’s what we found.
The long-awaited January 6th hearings have shed light on Donald Trump's role in the events leading up to one of the most egregious attacks on our democracy. While the world has been watching in prime time, they are also taking to the internet to share bite-size clips of some of the most shocking discoveries from the Committee.
BIG TAKEAWAY: Democrats are the most vocal online regarding the January 6th hearings, while Republicans continue expressing support for Trump.
The January 6th hearings have grabbed the attention of the US public, and users have been eagerly discussing the revelations from the committee.
People are quick to jump online following each major revelation to express their surprise and anger with the events that led up to the events on January 6th, 2021.
There is little engagement between Republicans and Democrats, both deep in their own echo chambers. Vocal Republicans, specifically, have been showing little interest in the hearings at all.
SLEEPER TAKEAWAY: While nearly 5 million people are talking about the hearings online, this issue is still not a motivating factor to vote.
Data from Google Trends shows that users have avidly followed the January 6th Committee Hearings. In fact, when the hearings first aired on prime-time television, the search term “Jan 6 hearings” even surpassed the term “capitol riot” when it was at its peak in 2021.
Aside from just searches, spikes in the volume of online user discussion regarding the January 6 Hearings coincided with the hearing schedules. These discussions were primarily driven by news sharing and the key revelations from each day.
The key revelations of each hearing, highlighted by the New York Times, sparked conversations online. With bite-size information being shared online, ranging from unseen video footage of the brutality of the attack to Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive testimony regarding republican lawmakers requesting pardons from Trump.
Initially, the conversation was filled with anticipation as users awaited the start of the January 6th Committee Hearings, but once the hearings began, the conversation shifted. The discourse became dominated by anger and surprise as each day of the hearings revealed detailed information about the events leading up to the capitol riot. The last hearing, which demonstrated Trump’s complete inaction on the day of the riot, resulted in high levels of disgust within the online discourse.
Among the discourse, two of the top ten most shared posts about the hearings were from young users with small followings. This indicates not only the virility of the content but the eagerness for real people and voters to engage with others who are viewing the events from a similar vantage point.
Not only do the majority of the people engaged in the discourse share a similar vantage point, but they also share similar political views. For example, self-identified Democrats are nearly three times more likely to discuss the hearings than self-identified Republicans.
It is clear that the hearings have had an effect on the publics’ perception of US democracy. Polling data from CNN/SSRS reports that 54% of Americans see democracy as under attack, up by 2% when compared with results from earlier this year. This increase is largely being driven by Democrats and Independents, as Republicans still generally remain less concerned about this threat.
Regardless, according to the CNN/SSRS poll Republicans who do not want to see the party nominate Trump again in 2024 grew from 49% of Republican voters in February to 55% in July because of these Committee Hearings.
Additionally, polling data from the latest Reuters/Ipsos release indicates that the hearings have somewhat swayed Republicans, with 32% agreeing that Trump should NOT run for president in 2024 (up from 26% before the hearings).
While these polls claim that Trump might be losing the support of his base, the online discourse paints a different picture. Not only are republicans continuing to claim that #TrumpWon and that the January 6th hearings are a ‘witch hunt’, but they continue to show their support for Trump’s plans to run again in 2024.
Although the hearings have drawn in a broad audience, with nearly 18 million viewers tuning in for the final hearing, the Committee has failed to cement the events of January 6 as a voting issue.
Data from the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll shows that inflation remains the biggest concern for registered voters across the board at 37%, followed by abortion (18%), guns (10%), and health care (10%).
Bottom line: When it comes to speaking out about January 6th and the events leading up to the riots, Democrats are the most vocal. While the polls might show less favorability in Trump for President, it is clear he has a devoted fan base online and receives little to no criticisms from any republicans online. The online discourse sheds light on how divisive the political environment still is, regardless of how much information is obtained regarding attacks on our democracy.