New PRRI Report Reveals Nearly One in Five Americans and One in Four Republicans Still Believe in QAnon Conspiracy Theories
Americans Who Most Trust Far-Right News Are Nearly Five Times More Likely to Be QAnon Believers Than Those Who Most Trust Mainstream News
Even with former President Donald Trump out of power, QAnon conspiracy beliefs have continued to flourish among some Americans, according to a new analysis released today by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). The report includes the largest collection of survey data conducted on QAnon conspiracy theories to date, tracking those beliefs throughout 2021.
The PRRI survey finds that nearly one in five Americans (16%) are QAnon believers, a number that held steady throughout 2021. The proportion of Americans who buy into QAnon theories increases among Republicans, as one in four (25%) are QAnon believers, compared to 14% of independents and 9% of Democrats. The share of Americans who completely reject QAnon conspiracy theories dipped slightly in 2021, from 40% in March to 34% in October.
“Our surveys show that QAnon conspiracy theories are not losing popularity over time, despite their championed leader being out of power,” said Natalie Jackson, director of research at PRRI. “These surveys have captured how many people are open to believing some pretty wild conspiracies, and although 16% seems small, that is around 41 million Americans. While these believers are racially, religiously, and politically diverse, the unifying beliefs are that their way of life is under attack and that they might be willing to resort to violence to defend their vision of the country.”
QAnon beliefs are measured using three statements that are core tenets of the movement but do not specifically mention QAnon: (1) The government, media, and financial sector are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation; (2) There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders; and (3) Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country. Those who generally agree with these statements are labeled QAnon believers, those who completely disagree with all three are QAnon rejecters, and those who are in between but mostly disagree are QAnon doubters.
Media trust is by far the strongest independent predictor of belief in QAnon, even when controlling for partisanship and ideology. Americans who most trust far-right news sources, such as One America News Network (OANN) and Newsmax, are nearly five times more likely than those who most trust mainstream news to be QAnon believers. Americans who most trust Fox News are about twice as likely to be QAnon believers as those who most trust mainstream news.
A Culture Under Attack: Perceptions of QAnon Believers
“Americans who believe in QAnon conspiracies share a common belief that there is a pervasive cultural threat to their vision of America as a white Christian nation,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of PRRI.
QAnon believers are strongly committed to Christian nationalism. Two-thirds of QAnon believers (66%) say that being Christian is important to being truly American, compared to 43% of all Americans and one in five QAnon rejecters (20%).
A significant majority of QAnon believers (81%) agree with the statement that America is in danger of losing its culture and identity, compared to significantly smaller shares of QAnon doubters (61%) and rejecters (27%). About three in four QAnon believers (73%) agree that the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence, compared to 33% of rejecters. These perceptions are associated with racial prejudice: QAnon believers are more than five times as likely as rejecters to agree with the statement that “the idea of America where most people are not white bothers me” (32% vs. 6%).
QAnon believers remain loyal to Trump. Seven in ten QAnon believers agree with the idea that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump (69%), and 67% believe Trump is a true patriot. Regarding the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, QAnon believers are most likely to blame left-wing groups like Antifa (59%), and only 30% blame Trump, compared to 56% of all Americans.
Other key findings from PRRI’s February QAnon report include:
- Racially and ethnically, the majority of QAnon believers (58%) are white Americans; 20% are Hispanic; 13% are Black; 6% belong to other races or ethnicities, including Asian American and Native American; and 2% are multiracial.
- Religiously, QAnon believers are a diverse group. While they are more likely than the general population to identify as white evangelical Protestant (20% vs. 14%), a comparable percentage of QAnon believers are religiously unaffiliated Americans (17%), and significant numbers are white mainline Protestants (12%), white Catholics (12%), and Hispanic Catholics (10%).
- QAnon believers are most likely to have household incomes of less than $50,000 per year (48%), while about one-third have annual incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 (31%) and one in five have annual incomes above $100,000 (21%).
- A plurality of QAnon believers (45%) live in suburban areas, while three in ten (31%) live in urban areas and 24% live in rural areas. QAnon believers are most likely to live in the South (44%), while about half as many live in the West (22%), the Midwest (20%), and the Northeast (14%).
The full report, “The Persistence of QAnon in the Post-Trump Era: An Analysis of Who Believes the Conspiracies,” is available on PRRI’s website.
The full dataset used for analysis consists of 19,399 respondents from four surveys designed and conducted by PRRI throughout 2021. All surveys were conducted among random samples of adults (ages 18 and over) living in all 50 states in the United States and who are part of Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel. Some surveys include small additional opt-in samples to increase sample sizes in smaller states. All surveys’ full samples are weighted to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error for the full dataset is +/- 0.9 percentage points, including the design effect of 1.6. There are 2,776 QAnon believers in the dataset. Analysis of this subgroup has a margin of error of +/-2.4 percentage points, including the design effect.
PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.