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- A new INSIDER poll found that Republican voters were statistically more likely to believe in the Illuminati and creatures like Bigfoot, compared to Democratic voters.
- Democratic voters, meanwhile, were more likely than Republican voters to believe that extraterrestrials have visited earth.
- Those who self-report believing in chemtrails tend to identify as liberal.
- Flat-earthers are evenly distributed across the political aisle.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Conspiracy-minded Americans are known to point fingers at whoever is on the other side of the political spectrum – but when it comes to common unproven theories, like Bigfoot, and the existence of alien lifeforms, are there differences across party lines?
A new INSIDER poll found that respondents who said they’d vote in a Republican primary were more likely to believe in the Illuminati and unclassified creatures such as Nessie and Bigfoot, while those who said they were Democratic voters were more likely to believe that extraterrestrials have visited earth.
The poll asked over a thousand respondents, “If any, which of the following unproven ideas, paranormal phenomena or general beliefs do you believe to be credible?,” allowing survey-takers to select from a list of 15 choices, including options like “The existence of chemtrails” and “The efficacy of crystal healing,” as well as “None of these.”
Nearly 1 in 5 survey-takers who plan to vote in their state’s Republican primary or caucus believed that unclassified organisms such as Bigfoot exist – more than 5 percentage points higher than their Democratic counterparts. The same numbers held true for those who believe that the Illuminati – an alleged elite secret society of people who supposedly control the world – actually alter world events.
Democratic voters, on the other hand, clocked in higher for aliens, with 21% believing that aliens have come to earth – a proportion that mirrors the general population – compared with 17% of Republican voters.
Survey-takers who self-reported as liberal were also more likely to believe in chemtrails. More than 22% of those polled who believe in chemtrails – the theory that the clouds of condensation behind airplanes contain chemical agents meant to control the public – identified as liberal to some degree, while only 17% of people who identified as conservative were chemtrail truthers.
“People tend to adopt conspiracy theories that match with their existing worldview,” Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami, told INSIDER. Conspiracy theories involving Democrats, for instance, are much more popular with Republicans, and vice versa.
When it comes to less partisan issues, such as the psedoscientific beliefs polled by INSIDER, differences aren’t quite as extreme.
Least polarizing of all conspiracy theories, INSIDER found, was the flat earth theory, which posits, contrary to fact, that the earth is a plane rather than a sphere. Fewer than 3% of both Republicans and Democrats found the idea to be credible.
Regardless of political affiliation, conspiracy theory discourse is on the rise, according to Uscinski, who has observed an increase in coverage by the media and politicians. That doesn’t mean that more Americans believe in spurious theories these days – but they’re interested in who among them do.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,006 respondents collected July 9 to July 10 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.15 percentage points with a 95% confidence level. See this page for more details about methodology.