It’s no secret some conservative influencers—which includes Alex Jones, Sean Hannity and even president-elect Donald Trump himself—trafficked in conspiracy theories during the 2016 election. After all, Trump’s first real foray into the political arena revolved around his insistence that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and thus ineligible for the presidency (a racist theory advanced by both Jones and Hannity, who served as de facto hype-men for Trump throughout the campaign).
However a new Economist/YouGov poll indicates just how impactful these conspiracies were to voters. The poll reveals that nearly half—46 percent—of Trump voters believe leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign talked about pedophilia and human trafficking.
The poll was conducted after an armed man from North Carolina was arrested for trying to “self-investigate” Comet Ping Pong in Washington D.C. over charges the restaurant was a front for a pedophilia ring run by Clinton and her aide John Podesta.
The “fictitious conspiracy theory”—dubbed “pizzagate”—originated on sites like 4chan and reddit before making its way across social media. It was eventually picked up by fake news websites including Jones’ Infowars.com. According to the poll, even after the theory was debunked by authorities, “only 29 percent [of American adults] are sure the allegation is ‘definitely’ not true.”
The poll also reveals a remarkable distrust of the intelligence community’s consensus that Russia was responsible for leaking e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign in the hopes of swinging the election in favor of Trump. While 87 percent of Clinton voters believe it’s “true” that Russia interfered to help the president-elect, a full 80 percent of Trump voters think it’s false. Sixty percent of Trump voters also believe the president-elect’s erroneous claim that “millions of people … voted illegally” in the election.
[h/t Catherine Rampell, @crampell—Washington Post]