NYT: Losing The Presidential Election Drove Democrats To Start Believing In Conspiracy Theories (Or How Trump Derangement Syndrome Is Real)

Posted: Feb 17, 2017 1:15 PM

Conservatives and right-leaning voters are often the subject of ridicule concerning the peddling of conspiracy theories. The deluge of fake news stories has been a subject of discussion after Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss to Donald Trump. President Trump has used the phrase to go after news organizations that have gone off the reservation. Stories about the MLK Jr. bust being removed from the Oval Office, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tossing an old lady out of her home over 27¢, and Trump renaming black history month all have something in common. They’re fake news stories.

But as Democrats lick their wounds, ready more dumpsters to set on fire, and whine incessantly about their candidate getting beat, they too have clung to conspiracy theories for comfort. The Democratic Party is out of power in Washington, 69/99 state legislatures are under GOP control, and two-thirds of the governorships are Republicans as well. In the last eight years, over 1,000 Democratic congressional, state legislature and governor seats have been lost to Republicans. I would need crazy stuff to help me cope too I guess—and for these insufferable politically correct snowflakes, it seems conspiratorial drivel is their source of solace. Republicans aren’t immune to it. The New York Times reported on a study, which says, shocker—the losing side of an election tends to drift more to the insane when it comes to news consumption.

The main entrée for the Left is that Russia hacked the election. The Kremlin did deploy a prolonged and sustained propaganda campaign, which saw state-funded media outlets and trolls flood social media with insane stories, but it didn’t play a pivotal role in the election. Moreover, the Clinton campaign accepted the result; the Obama White House viewed the results as a reflection of the will of the people, and the Department of Homeland Security said that no spikes in malicious cyber activity were seen on election night. Still, a majority of Democrats polled last month said that Russia hacked the election results. A social media propaganda deluge and messing with vote tallies are different things, with the former certainly not being a hack. So, to be clear again—Russia did not hack the election (which is also virtually impossible). Brendan Nyhan had more (via NYT) [emphasis mine]:

…since the election, there has been a noticeable increase in the flow of dubious and unsupported claims among liberals. One widely circulated post on Medium portrayed the Trump administration’s fumbling rollout of a travel ban in late January as an elaborate “trial balloon for a coup d’état.” Brooke Binkowski, managing editor at the rumor-tracking site Snopes, recently told The Atlantic that she has been seeing more false reports aimed at liberals or from liberal sources — “a lot of dubious news, a lot of wishful-thinking-type stuff.”

Even some prominent liberals like Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, seem open to conspiracy theories of the sort typically espoused by figures like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. (After the recent violent demonstration at the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Reich raised the possibility that the far right “was in cahoots” with the agitators, writing a blog post titled “A Yiannopoulos, Bannon, Trump Plot to Control American Universities?”)

A simple explanation for this shift is that misperceptions often focus on the president and are most commonly held by members of the other party. Just as Republicans disproportionately endorsed prominent misperceptions during the Obama years (like the birther and death panel myths), Democrats are now the opposition partisans especially likely to fall victim to dubious claims about the Trump administration.


To evaluate this conjecture, the political scientists Christina Farhart, Joanne Miller and Kyle Saunders, who study conspiracy theory belief, compared how Democrats and Republicans changed in their responses to a conspiracy predispositions scale created by Mr. Uscinski and his co-authors.


In total, the percentage of Democrats who agreed on average with the conspiracy claims in the scale increased from 27 percent before the election to 32 percent afterward. By contrast, Republicans’ willingness to endorse conspiratorial claims declined after the election over all and for three of the four statements, pushing down the percentage of Republicans who agreed on average with the statements from 28 percent to 19 percent.

In other words, losing the presidential election made Democrats more likely to blame secret conspiracies for the state of the world, while making Republicans less willing to indulge these sorts of claims. If you don’t believe me, just compare your social media news feeds with what you saw during the campaign — or ask yourself who you think is behind the news you are seeing.

Nyhan added that the predispositions that respondents were asked to evaluate in the study were:

  1. Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places.
  2. Even though we live in a democracy, a few people will always run things anyway.
  3. The people who really “run” the country are not known to the voters.
  4. Big events like wars, economic recessions and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people who are working in secret against the rest of us.

So, Trump Derangement Syndrome actually is a thing. Additionally, it also shows the Left’s appalling inability to accept the two facts: 1) Trump is president; 2) Hillary Clinton was a terrible, dishonest, inauthentic, and untrustworthy candidate who fostered her own demise through her reckless decisions, namely an unapproved and unsecure email server, from which she conducted all of her official business as secretary of state. The discovery and serial lies told by her campaign to explain this trip up only rehashed old criticisms about her from the 1990s, killed her numbers on character issues, which—coupled with the allegations unethical quid-pro-quo dealings at the Clinton Foundation—led to her defeat. Oh, and ignoring tens of millions of white working class voters, who flocked to Trump, also wasn’t the best decision. It wasn’t the Russians who defeated Clinton, fellow liberals. It was Lady Macbeth herself. 

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