Why the January 6th Hearings Matter
It turns out that old-fashioned Congressional oversight, the kind we haven’t seen in a long time, can move public opinion.
Why bother holding hearings investigating Donald Trump? It’s not going to change any minds.
That’s an argument I hear a lot, especially from Democrats. They look across the aisle and see 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020, and they wonder how exposing his unfitness for office now could matter after everything that was manifest while he was in power. They look at how the vast bulk of Republicans support his false claim that the election was rigged or stolen, and they wonder what difference investigations could make.
Well, I have news. It turns out that old-fashioned Congressional oversight, the kind that used to be practiced decades ago, where a committee hires expert investigators and seasoned prosecutors, and uses its subpoena powers to compel people and organizations to testify and release crucial documents, not only can uncover critical new facts. Coupled with thoughtfully designed hearings that tell a clear story, it can change minds.
That’s the upshot of a new survey out today from Navigator Research, who polled 998 registered voters between June 9 and June 13, while the first two sessions of the January 6th select committee were underway. Three-fifths of the public say they’ve heard at least something, if not a lot, about the hearings, thanks to widespread media coverage, and some minds are shifting.
Who is changing their minds? Not Republicans, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. People who have dug in feelings about an identity or a whole world view don’t budge much if at all when confronted with contradictory information. Motivated reasoning kicks in. According to the Navigator poll, the percentage of Republicans with a positive view of “MAGA Republicans” has actually gone up by an eight-point margin since the hearings started, to 64%.
But there’s been a very important shift among people who identify as independents. Just 15% of them now say they have a favorable view of MAGA Republicans, compared to 51% with a negative view. That reflects a 17-point shift in a more negative direction from a month ago. People who…