Third, the demographic profile of the suspected Capitol rioters is different from that of past right-wing extremists. The average age of the arrestees we studied is 40. Two-thirds are 35 or older, and 40 percent are business owners or hold white-collar jobs. Unlike the stereotypical extremist, many of the alleged participants in the Capitol riot have a lot to lose. They work as CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants. Strikingly, court documents indicate that only 9 percent are unemployed. Of the earlier far-right-extremist suspects we studied, 61 percent were under 35, 25 percent were unemployed, and almost none worked in white-collar occupations.
Fourth, most of the insurrectionists do not come from deep-red strongholds. People familiar with America’s political geography might imagine the Capitol rioters as having marinated in places where they are unlikely to encounter anyone from the opposite side of the political spectrum. Yet of those arrested for their role in the Capitol riot, more than half came from counties that Biden won; one-sixth came from counties that Trump won with less than 60 percent of the vote.
Is there something special about counties that produced the suspected insurrectionists? Remarkably, no. We found that 39 percent of suspected insurrectionists came from battleground counties, where Trump received 40 to 60 percent of the vote; 12 percent came from counties where less than 60 percent of the population is white. In these and many other ways, the mix of counties from which arrestees hailed was typical of all American counties.