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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Q

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential raceConspiracy theory seems to be seeping into the GOP grassroots.  Party leaders are tacitly encouraging it.

Over the summer, Republicans nominated QAnon backers in congressional and legislative primaries, a sitting US Senator embraced a Q candidate in her home state, the president refused to condemn the conspiracy, and twice seemed to go out of his way to shower it with praise. Polls now suggest that a substantial number of Republicans are, at minimum, Q-curious, and now in the final days of the campaign, party leaders have begun to embrace Q-tinged themes.

Yesterday, we had a sitting U.S. senator (from my home state) openly speculating about Hunter Biden and child pornography.





 

It can get worse.

Just last week, Trump was given a chance to repudiate the movement.

President Trump: (18:41)
I know very little. You told me, but what you tell me, doesn’t necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that. I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard.
This was not the first time that Trump dodged the question. Back in August, he also went out of his way to praise Q:
“I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference ostensibly about the coronavirus. “So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”
A reporter gave him a chance to clarify this, by telling Trump that one of the central tenets of QAnon is that Trump is saving the world from a satantic cult of pedophiles and cannibals connected to prominent Democrats, celebrities, and denizens of the Deep State.
Trump said: “I haven’t heard that. But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it, and I’m willing to put myself out there. And we are, actually. We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country. And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.”

As the Times deadpanned the next morning, “Mr. Trump’s cavalier response was a remarkable public expression of support for conspiracy theorists who have operated in the darkest corners of the internet and have at times been charged with domestic terrorism and planned kidnapping.”

Trump’s flirtation with Q is not accidental or casual. Trump and other Republicans increasingly see QAnon as an essential part of their coalition. Business Insider reports:

GOP political strategists acknowledged in interviews with Insider that Republicans view QAnon believers and the movement not as a liability or as a scourge to be extinguished, but as a useful band of fired-up supporters. While they're careful not to embrace QAnon explicitly, these Republicans said, they make sure not to adopt messages that alienate what has become a key part of the Republican coalition.

"The surrogates around Trump try to keep [QAnon supporters] happy because they know they're going to vote," said one Republican close to the president's campaign who asked to speak on condition of anonymity.
Politico has noticed the same thing:
The QAnon world is no longer simply a social media community trafficking in conspiracy theories. It’s increasingly a new constituency for the GOP — one that’s fired up like the rest of the MAGA movement, warring with tech giants and ready to battle through Election Day on behalf of a struggling president.
As usual, Trump is both cause and effect. His attitude has certainly given the conspiracy movement oxygen to spread; but he is also responding to the growing evidence that it represents a larger and growing part of his own base.
Hunter Woodall at The Daily Beast:
President Trump dodged directly answering a question about the QAnon conspiracy theory Friday, days after he cheered on one of its supporters who is well on her way to winning a congressional seat. Trump celebrated the victory of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who defeated a fellow Republican by 14 points Tuesday, advancing to what is likely to be a win in November for Georgia’s 14th congressional district seat. Greene believes in QAnon, the bonkers pro-Trump conspiracy premised on mass executions of Trump’s political opponents. The FBI considers it a potential source of domestic terrorism.

“Well she did very well in the election,” Trump said during a White House press briefing Friday. “She won by a lot. She was very popular. She comes from a great state and she had a tremendous victory, so absolutely I did congratulate her.” When a reporter from the Associated Press tried to press him on whether he agreed with the candidate embracing QAnon, Trump moved on to another reporter. QAnon believers desperate to see their beliefs validated have long wanted a White House reporter to ask Trump about QAnon, even launching email writing campaigns asking journalists to “ask the Q” at a press briefing. On Wednesday, following Greene’s victory, Trump tweeted that she is a “future Republican Star.”