Poll: Charged speech not to blame for Arizona attacks
Well wishers hold vigil outside Tucson hospital Saturday.
January 11th, 2011
08:29 AM ET
9 years ago

Poll: Charged speech not to blame for Arizona attacks

(CNN) -Amid discussion an increasingly charged political atmosphere may have motivated the shootings in Arizona, a new national poll suggests a majority of Americans believe the heated rhetoric of late played no role in the tragedy that critically injured a congresswoman and left six dead.

According to a new CBS poll, 57 percent of Americans say political vitriol did not contribute to the attacks allegedly committed by 22 year-old Jared Loughner; 32 percent felt it did.

Broken down by party, 69 percent of Republicans said heated political dialogue played no role, while 19 percent said it did. Democrats were more mixed on the issue: 49 percent said there was no link while 42 percent believed there was. Fifty-six percent of independents meanwhile said there was no connection while 33 percent said there was.

The poll surveyed 673 adults by telephone and carries a sampling error of 4 percent.


Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Tony in Maine

    That's as stupid as saying it did. More accurately we can't know without getting inside the head of a psychotic.

    Generally speaking, the hate talk does not create a context for civility.

    January 11, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. rockloper

    The political vitriol still needs to stop.

    January 11, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. Sunny

    What is the purpose of this ridiculous poll? How can anyone judge whether the shooter was motivated by the charged speech or not? It is like polling the whole nation asking them if I think Palin is stupid or not? Just ask the shooter for the reasons behind his actions. All these speculative media is just to create unnecessary sensation and disregard the gravity of the situation. Can somebody let these media knwo that crisis is not a playground or opportunity for making money. What is then the difference between vultures and media?

    January 11, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. Obama is, always will be my President

    You didn't ask me. God please take the hate away.

    January 11, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  5. slipthalo

    The man is a loon but I really think some of the political h@te spewing got into his mind. The rhetoric has to calm down – if we don't learn that from this incident, then we'll never learn our lesson.

    January 11, 2011 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. Carrie

    Nice to see most Americans can think for themselves and are not persuaded by the medias attempt to make this shooting about something more than an individual who was mentally unstable. To the others, how are your negative and incendiary comments about Palin and the right any different? Freedom of speech people!

    January 11, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. lynn

    CNN, once again your polls are lopsided to probably the east and SE. There are millions of others who completely feel the rhetoric and smears coming from the wild-eyed tea baggers and their friends in the GOP are to blame for the Tucson shootings. Something had to stir up his hatred for the group of people he targeted and reading what Limbaugh, Beck and Palin are constantly screaming, any thinking person knows the truth.

    January 11, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  8. Jesse in Maryland

    It's nice to know that most Americans have common sense. Are you listening, Paul Krugman??

    January 11, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  9. Bria

    Where in the world do people who write these adds get there numbers! Thats so fake, another words, the press thinks everybody is stupid!!!! When you have the likes of Palin,glenn beck,and the head of the tea potty saying they would like to get rid of Micheal Moore,what do you call That!!!! I hold these people responsible for inciting violence in this country! Micheal Moore is the common peoples voice in this country,he,s got alot more support from Americans than the likes of Glenn Beck!!! Shame!!! Shame!!

    January 11, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  10. Gil

    It just goes to show how stupid and ignorant we Americans have become. After all look at who we elected in November! We have become a nation of fools like rush and Glen!

    January 11, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  11. Fed Up

    The people are smarter than those that will politicize anything. The people think things through, instead of just walking the party line.

    January 11, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. ross berg

    This independent feels that Palins continued use of NRA type language is dangerous as it certainly fires up the fringe right.

    As a nation our best hope now is that Palin will accept Barbara Bush's advice!!

    January 11, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. karen from Charlottesville

    I wonder if those respondnts are aware that there have been violent threats or actions against 50% of the people on Pailin's "hit list," including an attempt on Tom Periello's brother's family home, where there were 4 children under the age of 8? The attackers may be wackos, but they are being influenced by the WORDS and veiled threats being spoken by Palin, Beck and the like.

    January 11, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  14. marie md

    Who was polled because co workers, friends and family members (dems and repub) blame the quitter lumbaugh beck and faux news in principle if nothing else. They are all scrambling to pretend their shows and words don't matter. They do!!!!!?

    January 11, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  15. FatBoySlim

    History has proven, and will prove once again, that the American public is misinformed in their opinions.

    January 11, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  16. Rosemary

    It's too early to poll such matters. All early reports say this guy was a lunatic and that's what is reflected in this poll. We now have evidence that this lunatic had anti-gov views which links him to heated rhetoric from the Becks and Rush's of the right.
    Let take another poll next week and you will notice how different the reults will show.

    January 11, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  17. james darnley

    that is just one pole i have seen others that say just the opposite.that is why you really can;t trust poles 100%.

    January 11, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. jules sand-perkins

    Jared Laughner made the greatest causal contribution to this tragedy.
    The second greatest contribution was the failure of society and its laws to confine this obviously dangerous citizen to a mental hospital or, at least, require his treatment on an out-patient basis: his college would not allow him to return without the approval of a mental health professional. He should have been required to seek treatment.

    January 11, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. Dave

    Just maybe the American public is smarter than the so-called intelligent liberal newspaper writers, and commentators, who, immediately, tried to make political out of this terrible tragedy.

    January 11, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    This was a deranged person, acting alone, who just happened to target a government representative, who they perceived as haivng wronged them in the past. It had absolutely nothing to do, with the current political situation, between the Dems and the GOP.

    The Dems have shown their true colors, in trying to make an inference that there is any connection, when there clearly is NOT!

    January 11, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  21. once upon a horse

    I agree that the politcal rhetoric played no role if any in THIS particular incident, but that doesn't mean that it should not be toned down or elminated. What I find striking is that Republicans when polled seem to think there is no problem with this and they take offense to being accused of it. Right wing radio is doing their "who me?" act once again and as usual they are in denial of the situation being toxic. What I DID find funny was when the AZ sheriff made his statements about the toxic political climate, bigotry, and radio and media toxic speech he never said left or right wing and the right took offense very quickly and lambasted the man. Perhaps he hit a nerve and never really called them out on it.

    January 11, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Squiggs

    I'm sure most Americans don't believe easy access to guns and and ammo had anything to do with the killings either. We accept violence and the things that cause violance in this country so easy. The only thing we lead the world in now is murders and gun violence. What does that say about us?

    January 11, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Indy

    This does not change the fact that Palin used violent imagery on her web page and is best known for her hate filled one liners and has never ever offered one solution to make America better. Now that we all know that no one is going to directly blame Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Tea Party it is time to stop the people that lie and distort for the purpose of getting rich and creating division based on lies and fear.Seperate the two issues and lets all agree that the fault of the mass murder comes from the person that did the shooting and get on to stopping the hate and lies that make Beck, Palin, Limbaugh multi millionaires off of lies and hate

    January 11, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. sgrier

    Maybe it was maybe it wasn't. But I have to say that I have never seen such hate in this country like I do now. There was a time when you could not say one thing bad about Bush remember the Dixie Chicks ppl actually sent them death threats. But with this president people have question his birth, his faith, his family, etc. For example why is the issue of his birth still and issue his parents had birth annoucements put in the newspaper after his birth. How could they have known that he would one day be President of United States? Do people honestly believe that this one man has that much power to pull this off. Really. The way we are constantly being pushed into a culture war. Rich against poor ;Working against unemployed; old against young...and some many other way. The tone has been very ugly it has turned into" either your with us or against us". Words are powerful and when the economy is hurting so bad its even easier for people to try to find something good or bad to hold on to. This is the same way that Hilter gained power he told the germans things would be better if we could just get rid of the jews. Words are powerful lets not down play it like its not.

    January 11, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. terrence

    conservatives have no problem blaming pop culture (music, tv, etc.) for society's ills (violence, drugs, teen pregnancy, etc.) that plague our youth on a macro level, yet only blame the individual for acts of political related violence. liberals blame conservatives on a macro level when political related violence occurs, yet only begrudgingly to acknowledge the effect pop culture has on our youth.

    when will we all realize that both individual tendencies and societal level influences contribute to outcomes on both the individual and macro level?

    January 11, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
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