Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A new study confirms that President Doanld Trump's campaign rallies leading up to the 2016 election were linked to an increase in violence in the cities where they were held. (Photo: Evan Guest/Flickr/cc)

Study Details Link Between Trump's Aggressive Rhetoric at Campaign Rallies and Increased Violence

Lead researcher describes it as "phenomenon that's unique" to rallies held by the president

Julia Conley

Confirming what was suspected by many Trump critics, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania on Friday revealed a correlation between President Donad Trump's campaign rallies during the 2016 election and a rise in violence in the cities where they were held.

"It appeared to be a phenomenon that's unique to Donald Trump's rally," Christopher Morrison, the lead author of the study, told the New York Times.

Looking at 31 campaign events held by Trump and 38 held by his opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton, researchers found an average of 2.3 more assaults in cities across the country on the days of Trump's rallies. They did not find a link between Clinton's rallies and an uptick in violence.

On an average day, the cities reported an average of 19.4 assaults, while they found 21.7 incidents when Trump was in town rallying his supporters.

During the 2016 campaign, reports of physical altercations at Trump events became common, with Slate compiling a list of 20 violent incidents from October 2015 until June 2016.

Three of the incidents appeared to have been perpetrated by anti-Trump protesters. Pro-Trump attendees as well as Trump staffers were behind 14 of the attacks, in which protesters and journalists were the victims.

The then-candidate frequently encouraged violence amongst his supporters, asking a crowd in Iowa in February 2016 to "knock the crap out of " protesters in the crowd and promising, "I will pay for the legal fees."

Weeks later he declared, "I'd like to punch him in the face," as a protester was led out of another rally.

After a protester was reportedly punched and kicked at an event in November 2015, Trump suggested, "Maybe he should have been roughed up."

Last year, a Trump supporter who was seen on video pushing a protester said he agreed that Trump's speech at a rally in Louisville, Ky. "was calculated to incite violence," after being named in a lawsuit filed by three people who were harmed at the event.

The authors of the study suggested that the overall increase in violence at and around Trump rallies was either the result of clashes at the events, or of the aggressive mood displayed at the events which then spread via "social contagion."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Policy of Death': Amazon Guardians Sue Ecuador's President Over Oil, Mining Decrees

"We are fighting to defend our territory, our rivers, our forest, our fish, and our animals," one Indigenous leader explained. "Without our forest and without water, we cannot live."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Just Cancel the Debt,' Advocates Say as Biden Admin Develops Strategy for Restarting Student Loan Payments

Student debt cancellation "is good economic policy that will change the lives of millions of families," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Julia Conley ·


Green Public Spending a 'Win-Win Opportunity' for Climate and Workers, Global Study Shows

"It's really a no-brainer for the federal government to prioritize green investments to put our economy back on track," said one advocate. "It's good politics and good policy."

Kenny Stancil ·


After CIA Plot Revealed, Press Freedom Coalition Says DOJ Must Drop Assange Case

"A precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be used against publishers and journalists alike, chilling their work and undermining freedom of the press," said the groups.

Julia Conley ·


'Needlessly Provocative': Austin Rebuked for Again Opening NATO Door to Ukraine and Georgia

"The Biden administration now faces a stark choice: commit to fight for Ukraine, creating a serious risk of war with Russia, or admit that NATO expansion has come to an overdue end."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo