30 October 2020

Looking at QAnon

Welcome back. Happy Halloween! Living in New York and the D.C. area, we used to get a boatload of trick-or-treaters for age-appropriate frightening. Here in rural Wisconsin, we get none. So today, I’ll frighten you with a blog post about QAnon, and I'll highlight a Pew Research Center survey on what Americans have heard and think about QAnon.

What is QAnon?
QAnon, which is estimated to have millions of followers, began three years ago with a post by “Q Patriot” on a notoriously toxic message board. Although QAnon is a “big tent conspiracy theory” open to elements of other conspiracies (e.g., President Kennedy’s assassination), the core claim is that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who plot against Mr. Trump and operate a global child sex-trafficking ring. The cabal includes top Democrats, entertainers and Hollywood celebrities, and even religious figures such as Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama.

Photos of QAnon followers and Trump rallies (see P.S. for credits and links).

Many QAnon followers apparently believe that members of the cabal kill and eat their victims to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood. (By the way, a centuries-old antisemitic myth accuses Jews of murdering Christians, especially children, to use their blood in religious rituals.)

President Trump professes that he knows little about QAnon, though in an August press conference, he was aware that its followers like him and love America and, in a town hall this month, he supported QAnon’s stance against pedophilia. At least 19 House Republican candidates who endorsed or gave credence to QAnon are up for election next week; one Georgia candidate is heavily favored.

Notably, the FBI declared QAnon a domestic terror threat in 2019 after violent acts by QAnon followers.

Pew Survey About QAnon
The Pew survey was part of a broader assessment of issues heading into the 2020 election. Pew queried its American Trends Panel of nationally representative adults 31 August to 7 September; 9,220 panelists responded.

The survey found 47% of U.S. adults had heard at least a little about QAnon, with Democrats more aware than Republicans, 55% vs 39%. (Survey respondents leaning Democrat or Republican are included with the Democrat and Republican tallies.)

U.S. adults’ awareness of QAnon (from Pew Research
Center survey, 31 Aug-7 Sep, 2020; see P.S. for link

Men (54%) were more aware than women (39%), yet few differences emerged with age.

Most who had heard of QAnon thought it was somewhat bad or very bad for the U.S., but there was a marked difference between Democrats (90%) and Republicans (50%). Democrats were also much more likely than Republicans to say that Trump seems to support people who promote QAnon theories (81% vs 27%).

U.S. adults’ Perception of QAnon and Trump’s
attitude toward QAnon (
from Pew Research Center survey,
31 Aug-7 Sep, 2020; see P.S. for link

The news sources that survey respondents rely on for political and election news had a significant effect on QAnon awareness and whether it was good or bad for the U.S.

Democrats who use only news outlets with left-leaning audiences (MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times or The Washington Post) were most aware of QAnon, as were Republicans who use only outlets with right-leaning audiences (Fox News or talk radio). Republicans who had heard of QAnon and for whom the Trump campaign is a major source for political and election news were somewhat more likely than other Republicans to view QAnon as positive for the country.

Wrap Up
I expect that the awareness of QAnon increased this month with the President’s NBC Town Hall and 60 Minutes interview. I doubt, however, that any real change occurred in how people perceive the group.

No one should be surprised that this president has brought the conspiracists (and white supremacists) out of the woodwork, given the conspiracy theories he has pushed or elevated before and during his presidency. Still, as conspiracy theories go, I think QAnon ranks up there as one of the most frightening.

Enjoy your treats and thanks for stopping by.

Photo credits:
Bottom left, QAnon follower holding sign with core QAnon conspiracy theory (from www.vox.com/2020/10/9/21504910/qanon-conspiracy-theory-facebook-ban-trump).
Top left, Trump rally attendees in QAnon (Q) t-shirts (Leah Mills for Reuters, from www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/02/reason-conspiracy-videos-work-so-well-youtube/583282/).
Right, Trump rally attendee in QAnon (Q) hat (photo by Jabin Botsford, from www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-trump-campaign-came-to-court-qanon-the-online-conspiracy-movement-identified-by-the-fbi-as-a-violent-threat/2020/08/01/dd0ea9b4-d1d4-11ea-9038-af089b63ac21_story.html)

Background on QAnon:

Pew Research Center survey on QAnon: www.journalism.org/2020/09/16/most-americans-who-have-heard-of-qanon-conspiracy-theories-say-they-are-bad-for-the-country-and-that-trump-seems-to-support-people-who-promote-them/
Trump’s history with conspiracy theories: www.factcheck.org/2020/10/trumps-long-history-with-conspiracy-theories/

No comments:

Post a Comment