Former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and the years that followed saw the embrace of deranged conspiracy theories by a mainstream political party.
Morbid fantasies that a covert network of satanic cannibal pedophiles secretly controls the U.S. government went undenounced by Trump and now see representation in the halls of Congress. Conspiracy theories that the global pandemic which killed nearly 600 thousand Americans was an exercise in government control led to untold numbers of preventable deaths.
But few conspiracy theories have been more consequential than the one promoted by Trump during his final months in office: that the 2020 election was illegitimate, and that Democrats "stole" the election from him through widespread fraud.
Though no evidence has been provided for widespread fraud, Republican lawmakers and Trump himself continue to peddle the delusion that Biden is an illegitimate President.
This has led to a slate of Republican proposals across the nation designed to make it harder for likely-Democratic voters to cast a ballot. It also led to an unprecedented siege of the United States Capitol by its own citizens—an effort to upend the joint congressional session nationally certifying Biden's victory.
A disturbing new poll from Ipsos/Reuters indicates just how firmly the conspiracy theory that Trump is the legitimate President has gripped the Republican party.
The poll asked:
"Who do you think the true President is right now?"
Given the choice between Biden and Trump, 53 percent of Republicans said Trump was the true President of the United States. What's more, nearly 60 percent said the election was "rigged" and 61 percent said they strongly or somewhat agreed that the election was "stolen" from Trump.
Trump—who's constantly demonstrated a willingness to promote delusions among his voters if it's politically beneficial—predictably celebrated the news, writing:
"A new Ipsos/Reuters poll 'Beliefs Among Republicans' shows 53% believe Donald Trump is the true President (I always knew America was smart!). 2020 Election was tainted 56%. The Election was stolen (and Rigged!) 61%."
While some claim most Republican respondents meant that Trump was the rightful President, right-wing media personalities like Lin Wood have spouted fantasies that Trump is secretly still the President of the United States, with some even claiming that Biden and Trump switched bodies, allowing Trump to continue as President.
People were unsettled to see the prevalence of the bonkers belief among millions of Americans.
Alex, I'll take CULTS for $1,000. https://t.co/O5OoCRqDfQ— Matt Rogers 🎙️ (@Matt Rogers 🎙️) 1621904338.0
Incredible. And incredibly scary. https://t.co/ycBfsvvQWr— April Coffin (@April Coffin) 1621961496.0
This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. https://t.co/Q8UPkOwhUt— The Unsheathed Quill (@The Unsheathed Quill) 1621899014.0
If Donald Trump posted tomorrow on his web log that he is actually Jesus Christ returned, what percentage of self-d… https://t.co/PEKuRy6S4F— S.V. Dáte (@S.V. Dáte) 1621892529.0
They're demanding action be taken to offset the collective delusion.
Republicans and right wing media outlets told them there were monsters under their beds, and they believed it. Now… https://t.co/Cy1ZQiWBuW— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse) 1621893326.0
@NumbersMuncher This may well end America as we know it. It’s high enough to motivate scurrilous GOP politicians to… https://t.co/fqenJWihk4— Tero Kuittinen (@Tero Kuittinen) 1621883198.0