Poll: Most Americans see no connection between Ariz. shooting and political rhetoric

Laura Donovan Contributor
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A majority of Americans don’t see a connection between vitriolic rhetoric and Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage in Tucson on Saturday, CBS reports in a poll it released today.

Overall, 57 percent of poll participants said the country’s harsh political tone was unrelated to the shooting, while 32 percent of respondents think there is some connection between the two.

The poll found that Republicans are more doubtful of a correlation. Sixty-nine percent of polled Republicans said rhetoric was not at fault, whereas only 19 percent felt it had a role. Democrats were more split: 49 percent saw no connection, and 42 percent said the opposite.

The telephone poll surveyed 673 adults across the country and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s shooting, which killed six, injured many, and left Ariz. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition, commentators were quick to fault politicians and pundits with inspiring Loughner.

Some people criticized former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for a map she unveiled in the run-up to the 2010 midterms. Giffords’ district was included on the map, which depicted rifle crosshairs over districts where liberal lawmakers were vulnerable as well as the instructions “Don’t retreat, reload.”

Palin quickly removed the map from her website, but the move didn’t go unnoticed. CNN’s Piers Morgan responded with a tweet, “This now deleted image from Sarah Palin (sic) website will be reason this terrible shooting has huge political ramifications.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin, who has blasted the Palin family on numerous occasionstweeted in the shooting aftermath, “Congresswoman in AZ, who is ON Sarah Palin’s crosshairs map was SHOT in the head 2day. Happy now Sarah?”

But Palin isn’t the only political figure to take the heat for Saturday’s incidient.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann asserted that Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck were possibly to blame and should apologize on-air “for ever turning to the death-fantasies and the dreams of bloodlust, for ever having provided just the oxygen to those deep in madness to whom violence is an acceptable solution.” Olbermann suggested that if Beck and O’Reilly refused to apologize, their sponsors, viewers, and employer should repudiate them.