But by mid-September, the number of Republicans/GOP-leaners who felt prosecutions were still very important had been cut almost in half to just 27%, according to Pew. Overall, just 57% of Republicans/leaners still view it as very/somewhat important, while 78% of the broader public does. Democrats, however, have remained steadfast, with 95% in both March and September viewing prosecutions of the perpetrators as very/somewhat important.
Republicans are also much more likely to view the criminal penalties for rioters as too severe, with 38% saying they’re too harsh. Meanwhile, 71% of Democrats say the penalties aren’t severe enough and a slim 6% of Democrats say they are “too severe.”
Among the broader public, a 48% plurality says the penalties aren’t severe enough, while 29% call them “about right,” and just 20% say they are too harsh.
As one might suspect, Republicans who believe Donald Trump won the 2020 election are much more likely to both downplay prosecutions and say the penalties are too severe. Among Republicans who falsely believe Trump won in 2020, only 18% call prosecutions “very” important versus the 43% of Republicans who rightly believe Biden won. And fully 48% of Trumpers say the penalties have been too severe, whereas only 19% of Republicans who believe Biden was duly elected say the penalties are too harsh.
Basically, people who baselessly believe the election was stolen from Trump are far more likely to give Jan. 6 rioters a pass while also believing they are being unfairly treated.