Americans continue to blame protesters more than Donald Trump for violence at his rallies

Nearly 80 percent of Americans find fault with anti-Trump protesters

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published March 23, 2016 1:58PM (EDT)

A scene from a Trump rally in Richmond, Va. (YouTube/Marcus Messner)
A scene from a Trump rally in Richmond, Va. (YouTube/Marcus Messner)

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday finds that Americans who have protested Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's campaign rallies are more responsible for the violence usually incurred upon them by Trump supporters than the candidate suggesting he'd like to punch a protester in the face, according to an overwhelming majority of Americans.

78 percent of all respondents in the national poll conducted March 16 through the 21 said that anti-Trump protesters are either "somewhat responsible" or "very responsible" for the repeated outbursts of violence that has become a hallmark of the controversial candidate's campaign.

On Monday, Arizona police arrested an active duty Air Force airmen who beat down anti-Trump protester as he was being escorted out of a rally by local police. This, of course, comes after the sucker-punch seen around the world by a 78-year-old North Carolina Trump supporter who was only arrested by local police after video showed him threatening to kill the protester he hit was released. Both anti-Trump protesters, in this instance, were non-violent and under the supervision of law enforcement when they were assaulted by Trump supporters. Still, only 70 percent of Americans believe such supporters are responsible for the violence.

Even fewer hold the candidate accountable.

"I’d like to punch him in the face," Trump told the crowd, while a protester was being escorted out of his campaign rally in Las Vegas last month. The big-mouthed billionaire also entertained the idea of covering the legal costs of his elderly, violent North Carolina supporter, defending him as merely a passionate supporter. Yet, only 64 percent of voters think Trump is the cause of the unrest at his rallies, according to Quinnipiac. A CBS/NYT poll out earlier this week found similar sentiments. While 43 percent of registered voters blame both sides, more voters, 29 percent, think it's the protesters who are mostly to blame for these incidents than blame Trump, 23 percent. That poll also found that eight in 10 Trump supporters approve of his handling of violence at his rally. 

In fact, following a particularly violent weekend of Trump rallies stretching from mass arrests in St. Louis, to a massive clash in Chicago after Trump cancelled last minute, to the arrest of a protester attempting to jump the stage while Trump was speaking in Ohio, another poll showed 22 percent of Trump supporters said they were actually more likely to back Trump.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Anti-trump Protesters Donald Trump Election 2016 Elections 2016 Poll Protesters