Here’s a theory: Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global sex trafficking operation control the US government, media and financial institutions. A storm comes to sweep away the elites and restore the rightful ruler of the country. And things are so bad that true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save the country.
It’s a pretty external view of the world, agrees Natalie Jackson, a researcher at the Public Religion Research Institute, who polled Americans on the central views of the QAnon conspiracy movement.
But a quarter of Republicans agree with those sentiments, according to a PRRI report released Thursday based on data from four separate polls it conducted. The same is true for 16% of the population as a whole – or, Jackson notes, about 44 million people.
The group, which studies the intersection of politics, culture and religion, didn’t outright ask people if they subscribed to QAnon, the group that circulated a bizarre accusation in 2016 that Democratic leaders were involved in a pedophile ring operated in a pizza place. joined in Washington, DC Instead, PRRI asked Americans if they agreed with the group’s core principles — and a good number did.
“I don’t think any of us thought of writing a question in any of our investigations about the United States being controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles,” Jackson said. But the persistence of the conspiratorial group – as well as the conviction and condemnation of QAnon “shaman” Jacob Chansley for his role in the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol – means that such questions are not themselves too much. extravagant.
Republicans were more likely to agree with QAnon’s core beliefs than Democrats (of whom 9% align with the group’s principles) or Independents (of whom 14% subscribe to QAnon’s beliefs).
There was little difference between people by age or religion, according to the report. Instead, “even controlling for partisanship and ideology, media consumption is the strongest independent predictor of being a QAnon supporter,” the report states.
According to the study, Americans who trust far-right outlets such as One America News Network and Newsmax the most are nearly five times more likely to be QAnon supporters than those who rely on more mainstream outlets. . Those who trust Fox News are twice as likely as those who watch mainstream media to subscribe to QAnon theories.
Jackson attributes the trend – which has not faltered since Donald Trump left office – to the product of diminished trust in major American institutions.
Polls by other operations have found that Americans’ faith and trust in a wide range of institutions has declined. Gallup, which conducts an ongoing survey of Americans’ trust in institutions, reports low levels of trust in the media, government, big business, the criminal justice system, the Supreme Court, organized religion and religious leaders. public schools. The military and police are two institutions that still enjoyed majority support in 2021, Gallup found.
There are also divisions between parties when it comes to trust in institutions. A poll conducted this month by Morning Consult finds that the most polarizing institutions are the US government and the news media. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats have confidence in the US government, compared to 32% of Republicans who share this view. As for the news media, 57% of Democrats say they trust the institution compared to 20% of Republicans who think so.
When it comes to QAnon, “I think most of these conspiracy theories aren’t that different from other conspiracy theories” when it comes to why people believe them, Jackson says.
“It’s about distrust of society and institutions. People who are really unhappy and look around and see a world they don’t recognize” are drawn to QAnon, she says. “They’re ready to entertain really wild theories about why the world looks the way it does.”
Jackson says the trends were stable in 2021 and shouldn’t change without a big recruiting effort from QAnon. But “even if it’s a small proportion of people, it’s still a lot of people,” she adds.