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Poll: 78 Percent of Americans Say Toxic Rhetoric Could Inspire Violence

An American flag flies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2019. (Al Drago/Reuters)

Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans agree that inflammatory political rhetoric could inspire acts of violence, according to a new poll published by the Pew Research Center.

91 percent of Democrats and voters who lean Democratic say that aggressive or heated rhetoric by elected officials could lead to violence against the groups or people the rhetoric targets, while 61 percent of those who lean Republican say the same, according to the study. 73 percent of respondents want politicians to avoid using such aggressive rhetoric, while only a quarter say officials “should be able to use heated language to express themselves without worrying about whether some people may act on what they say.”

President Trump has frequently been criticized for inflaming American political discourse since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015. Over half of voters, 55 percent, say he has shifted the tone of political rhetoric for the worse, and only 24 percent say he has shifted it in a positive direction, according to the poll.

The past week was rife with barbed insults between the president and his opponents, including a spat with four progressive congresswomen of color whom the president suggested should “go back” to their ancestral homelands if they have problems with America.

In the aftermath of the clash, Democrats called for upped security for Representative Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia and became the target of chants of “Send her back!” at a Trump campaign rally. Trump disavowed the chants, saying he was “not happy” with them.

Omar, meanwhile, responded that she is “not deterred” by the charged attacks.

“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us,” she told a crowd in Minneapolis.

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