WASHINGTON – A majority of Americans reject the view that heated political rhetoric was a factor in the weekend shootings in Arizona which killed six and critically wounded a congresswoman, a CBS News poll said on Tuesday.
Since the Saturday incident in which Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot at point-blank range, various politicians and commentators have said a climate in which strong language and ideological polarization is common may have contributed to the attack.
Some of the analysts cited anti-government statements from the man arrested in the shooting, Jared Lee Loughner, as support for that view.
But CBS said its nationwide telephone poll found that, “57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did.”
Rejection of a link was strongest among Republicans, 69 percent of whom felt harsh rhetoric was not related to the attack, while 19 percent thought it played a part.
Among Democrats 49 percent placed no blame on the heated political tone against 42 percent who did. Among independents the split was 56 percent to 33 percent, CBS said.
It said its poll of 673 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.