Poll: Americans Don't Blame "Political Tone" for Tucson Killings

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 11 2011 10:01 AM

Poll: Americans Don't Blame "Political Tone" for Tucson Killings

CBS News polls 673 adults and asks whether our current political tone and rhetoric were to blame for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The answer: Largely "nope."

Overall, 57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did. Republicans were more likely to feel the two were unrelated - 69 percent said rhetoric was not to blame; 19 percent said it played a part. Democrats were more split on the issue - 49 percent saw no connection; 42 percent said there was. 

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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That's still around a third of the country that blames rhetoric for the attack, despite evidence that it had nothing to do with it. And that doesn't calculate -- if there's any way to calculate -- how many people want the attack to initiate a climbdown from both parties. To wit:

When theyturn back to the health law Republicans will focus on moderatingtheir tone, strategists said, in contrast with some lawmakers’stronger language from last year’s campaign.

"There’s going to be a natural cautiousness," saidpollster David Winston, who advises House Republican leaders."Members are thinking through how they can have an effectivedebate without it being disagreeable."

I did a search recently on how many bills have the word "killing" in the title, like the "Repeal of the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." Almost no legislation in 20 years used the word. The only bill I found was a 2009 health care bill from then-Rep. Alan Grayson. Am I implying that the title of the repeal bill contributed to some climate of violence? No -- it's just rhetoric that pols are going to shy away from again.

 

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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