An astounding 50% of President Trump’s supporters say they believe top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings, and an even higher percentage of Trump supporters believe the president is actively working to dismantle these rings, according to a new national survey, which highlights the expanding popularity of the baseless, illogical claims at the core of the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory.
QAnon members believe that a cult of pedophiles comprised of Democratic politicians and Hollywood actors runs a child sex trafficking ring, which President Donald Trump has been secretly fighting to save the world — claims that Trump has refused to denounce.
According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Tuesday, which was conducted from Oct. 16 to 18, most registered voters (55%) say they’ve never heard of QAnon.
Among all registered voters that have heard of QAnon, 59% describe it as “an extremist conspiracy theory with no basis in fact.”
However, among Trump supporters, when asked about QAnon specifically, 22% say “it goes too far but I believe some of what I’ve heard,” 47% say that they’re “not sure” what to believe, and 15% percent openly say “I think it’s true.”
When “QAnon” is removed from the question and respondents are asked solely about the conspiracy theory’s underlying myth — that Trump is fighting child sex-trafficking rings run by Democrats — half of Trump’s supporters believe that baseless theory.
Another third of the president’s supporters (33%) say they’re unsure whether these rings exist, meaning that only 17% of Trump supporters reject the outlandish claims.
During an NBC town hall last week, President Trump refused to denounce QAnon, saying he knows “nothing” about the conspiracy theory except that they are “very much against pedophilia.” Moderator Savannah Guthrie pushed back by asking Trump whether he knows that QAnon followers believe there is a global cabal of Satanic pedophiles in the U.S., to which the president answered, “I have no idea.” In mid-August, Trump was asked directly about the conspiracy theory and twice refused to denounce the group. In late August, a reporter informed Trump that QAnon followers believe the president is “secretly saving the world” from a “cult of pedophiles and cannibals.” Trump responded by claiming he hadn’t “heard that,” before adding, “If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it.” Trump then went on to praise QAnon supporters, describing followers of QAnon as “people that love our country” and added, “I understand that they like me very much, which I appreciate.” The FBI has identified QAnon conspiracy theorists as “extremists” who pose a domestic terrorism threat. Tuesday’s Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,583 U.S. registered voters.
Last week, Trump retweeted an article detailing a different, irrational QAnon-based conspiracy theory claiming “Biden and Obama may have had Seal Team 6 killed” and that Bin Laden may still be alive. The article Trump shared was written by Kari Donovan, who identifies as an “ex-Community Organizer” who is now “a Homeschool Mom in North Carolina.” When confronted about promoting baseless conspiracy theories on Twitter, Trump defended himself by declaring, “I do a lot of retweets. . . . I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves.”
“It seems increasingly like we’re dealing with two different sets of facts in this country, sometimes more,” said Nina Janckowicz, a disinformation fellow at the non-partisan Wilson Center. “The fact is that QAnon is a movement, a conspiracy that has been cited by the FBI as potentially inciting terrorist and other violent extremist acts in this country. It shouldn’t be something that we’re this split [on] along partisan lines.”