Populist Conspiracy Theories and Candidate Preference in the U.S. Cover Image

Populist Conspiracy Theories and Candidate Preference in the U.S.
Populist Conspiracy Theories and Candidate Preference in the U.S.

Author(s): Patrick Sawyer
Subject(s): Political Theory
Published by: Univerzita Karlova, Fakulta sociálních věd, Katedra politologie Institutu politologických studií
Keywords: conspiracy theories; populism; Donald Trump; birtherism; Hillary Clinton; the radical right

Summary/Abstract: The onset of the “post-truth” era, characterized by the accretion of conspiracy theories and “fake news”, has generally coincided with a rise in populist radical right politicians and groups who are often the receptors and propagators of such conspiracy theories. This study focuses on the consequences of conspiracism in populist candidates, arguing that conspiratorial ideation is not simply a tendency of populism but also holds instrumental value which can result in electoral benefits. Given the lack of detailed data concerning adherence to certain conspiracy theories, I incorporate data from Google Trends concerning interest in certain conspiratorial topics to overcome this lacuna. Taking the case of the 2016 presidential election in the United States, the results demonstrate a significantly positive relationship between certain conspiracy theories mentioned by Donald Trump and votes for him on the state level, testifying to the significant role that conspiracy theories played in the election.

  • Issue Year: 12/2020
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 1-26
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: English