In 2020, when the QAnon candidates first gained national prominence, someone like Greene seemed like a long shot, let alone someone who would rise to the forefront of the Republican Party. Shortly after winning his election in November, posts from the person(s) who make up QAnon’s Q ceased and social media platforms began a mass deletion of QAnon accounts and groups. Some predicted that with Trump removed from office, the storm was over.
QAnon as an identifier or brand may have waned in importance, but as research from the Public Religion Research Institute found, support for QAnon remained broadly stable throughout 2021 and increased in 2022. Instead of asking respondents if they believed in QAnon, PRRI asked about statements they identified as QAnon’s core beliefs. Eighteen percent of Americans surveyed said they agreed that “the government, media and financial world in the United States is controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global operation child sex trafficking”, 27% agreed that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the ruling elites and restore legitimate leadership”, and 19% agreed that “because things have gotten so far from the right way, true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country.”
QAnon wasn’t muted by Trump’s loss; instead, it was fueled more by failure. In the days after Jan. 6, after the apparent plot to install Trump as president collapsed, I spoke with Jo Rae Perkins, an Oregon Republican and QAnon supporter who had lost her race to the presidency. United States Senate in November 2020. She was one of 30 candidates for Congress. that year who endorsed or promoted QAnon beliefs. Perkins had been at the Capitol, but only appeared outside. She told me that she “did not see any violence”. She had conspiratorial questions about the death of Ashli Babbitt, a QAnon supporter whom Capitol police shot and killed. She dismissed the idea that QAnon believers played a leading role in the Capitol attack. “I’m telling you,” she said, “it was antifa.”