Poll: Very few Americans blame Arizona shooting on ‘political rhetoric’

Chris Moody Contributor
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Almost a full week after Saturday’s shooting in Arizona, a new poll suggests that very few Americans associate the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to increased “heated political rhetoric,” despite an ongoing campaign to pin blame on conservative groups.

Just 15 percent of those surveyed in the national poll said they thought “rhetoric” was to blame for the shooting, according to a Quinnipiac University study released Friday.

“Americans seem to be rejecting the blame game for the Arizona shooting. By far, the largest number thinks this tragedy could not have been prevented,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Although a bare majority of voters say political rhetoric might drive unstable people to violence, less than one in seven blame it for the Arizona incident.”

The attacks on Saturday unleashed a firestorm of speculation that gun-related rhetoric used by Tea Party groups, conservative political candidates and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had inspired the suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner.

The poll did find, however, that a majority (52 percent) do think that “heated political rhetoric drives unstable people to commit violence,” but very few thought that to be the case in the Arizona shooting.

The survey’s findings were similar to an earlier CBS News poll that found “nearly six in 10 Americans” felt that rhetoric was not tied to the incident.

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