Poll: Rhetoric, Arizona shooting unrelated
Almost 60 percent of the public believes that heated political rhetoric has nothing to do with an Arizona shooting spree that gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) and killed a federal judge.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents in a new CBS News poll said rhetoric is unrelated to the shooting, while 32 percent said they believe the two are connected.
Many pundits and lawmakers have keyed in on political vitriol as a potential contributing factor to the shootings allegedly carried out by Jared Lee Loughner, a 22-year-old Tucson man who faces five federal felony charges.
Loughner's writings and videos suggest a worry about intrusions on the Constitution and some anti-government sentiments. Classmates worried about Loughner's behavior, with at least one describing him as disturbed.
Since the shooting on Saturday, conservatives and liberals squabbled over whether political rhetoric influenced Loughner.
Republicans who responded to the poll do not believe the shooting was related to rhetoric at a greater rate than Democrats. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans said rhetoric was not a factor, compared to 19 percent who said it was connected.
A narrow plurality of Democrats believe there is no relationship — 49 percent to 42. Fifty-six percent of independents believe rhetoric is unrelated to the shooting, and 33 percent think it was.
CBS polled 673 U.S. adults and the margin of error is four percentage points.