Your daily reminder via Survey Monkey and Axios that virtually all issues are partisan now.
Since our national future of Antifa reds slugging it out with alt-right brownshirts in running street battles looks increasingly assured, we might as well start tracking reaction polls like this:
Watching media coverage, you’d think Trump is nearly alone in believing “both sides” share fault for the Charlottesville violence. Turns out, most Republicans have his back…
Far more blame “the far right groups” for Charlottesville (46%) than “the counter-protesters” (9%), but a remarkable 40% concur with Trump’s assertion that both were equally responsible.
“Beneath the surface, we see the same partisan division: Two-thirds of Democrats (66%) blame the far-right groups rather than the counter-protesters (6%), while Republicans overwhelmingly blame both sides equally (64%). About the same proportion of Republicans blame the far-right groups (18%) as the counter-protestors (17%).”
As Sean Trende put it, “So basically, a plurality agree with Trump’s characterization of the Charlottesville events, or are to his right.” Indeed. Given a binary choice of whether the alt-right or counter-protesters bears most of the blame for the violence, people are far more likely to blame the alt-right. It was their rally, Nazis are known for violence, one of them actually killed someone on the other side. That’s why, I assume, even Republicans are (slightly) more likely to blame the alt-right than the left-wing protesters. Under the circumstances it’s hard to see the white nationalists as relatively blameless for what happened.
Once you include the option of blaming both groups equally, though, you end up with a plurality (49 percent) who say either that blame should be shared or that the counter-protesters were mainly at fault. If you’re wondering why Trump’s job approval has ticked up a point and a half since Sunday despite the brutal media coverage, that may explain some of it. Although more likely it’s the politics of the debate over Confederate monuments that’s helping him, as Democrats have stupidly zeroed in on that despite the fact that most of the public shares Trump’s view that they should be left in place.
As much as partisan interests are driving reaction here, don’t overlook the fact that nearly a quarter of Democrats — 24 percent — agree with Trump that both sides bear equal responsibility for what happened. (It’s even higher among indies at 38 percent, although a majority of 51 percent blames the “far-right groups.”) That’s an impressively large and resilient minority given the torrents of condemnation in stark moral terms that Trump has endured this week. It’s one thing for Republicans to stick with him, as their agenda depends on Trump’s political credibility. Democrats, though, have every partisan reason to hammer him over this, yet a quarter are holding firm on apportioning blame for the violence equally. I wonder if there’s a segment of the left that’s already aware of, and uncomfortable with, Antifa’s tactics and unwilling to absolve them of responsibility for throwing down with neo-Nazis. Probably too much to hope for.