Can the QAnon conspiracy theory survive a potential Donald Trump reelection loss? Will its members abandon their theory that Trump is leading a secret war against deep state pedophiles, or will it only amplify those beliefs?
With Trump’s polling sagging and his reelection chances seeming to diminish by the day, the odds increase that Trump’s war against the deep state, Democrats, and pedophiles operating at the highest levels of government could come to a close.
Despite QAnon-believing politicians winning primary elections and possibly becoming members of Congress, and Q getting more mainstream coverage than ever, there could be a ticking clock the faithful are starting to hear.
It’s a movement that’s inextricably linked with Trump, seeing him not just as an agent of change, but as a figure chosen by the U.S. military and God to lead a final struggle to stop the evil from destroying America.
What does that struggle look like if the leader is no longer at the top to lead it?
In many ways, it’s impossible to guess what QAnon will look like if Trump turns the Oval Office over to Joe Biden.
It might not change at all.
Q has already spent numerous drops calling Biden corrupt, in the pocket of China, also in the pocket of Ukraine, secretly funneling huge amounts of money to the Black Lives Matter movement, and likely to benefit from rigged mail-in voting and ballot stuffing coordinated with China.
But the poster doesn’t make the former vice president out to be some sort of apocalyptic enemy in the way of Hillary Clinton. If Biden were a threat to its existence, wouldn’t Q be sounding the alarm?
Either way, Q believers are already excellent at rationalizing all of the ways the conspiracy theory has failed to come true. The movement revolves around long-promised mass arrests, and since none have happened, there can’t be fewer without Trump in office.
Q might keep putting up drops, but from the position of an insurgent minority, rather than as the voice of a president. Even though conspiracy theories are generally embraced and pushed by elements who are out of power, Q grew with its leader running the government.
Being thrust out might mean that the people behind it are re-energized and inspired again to fight.
But Q is also a movement that promises justice will be done to the evilest people in human history. What happens if that justice is forever delayed thanks to an electoral loss?
It might be taken by Q believers as a sign that they’ve been wasting their time, been fooled by a con artist, or that the deep state has won the battle once and for all. Any number of these notions might push Q followers to violent acts, something the movement is no stranger to—including several murders, and a number of assaults, and attempted kidnappings.
Ultimately, what happens to Q after a potential Biden win is up to the people who believe in Q.
The Daily Dot reached out to several dozen Q followers on social media to ask them what they would do if Trump loses in November. Specifically, they were asked how they would feel if Trump leaves office without mass arrests; what effect would a Trump electoral loss have on their belief in Q; and how they believed a Biden presidency would alter the Q movement?
About a dozen responded. Some responses weren’t usable or the respondents asked not to be quoted, and others have been lightly edited for clarity and grammar. But all of them illuminate where the Q movement might be headed, how its believers are feeling right now, and why it’s a mistake to assume Q will fizzle out with Trump not in office anymore.
To the first question, how they would feel if Trump leaves office without mass arrests, there’s no real unity among Q believers.
While most felt like a Trump loss was impossible if the election was carried out honestly and fairly, if the unthinkable happened and put the long-awaited “Great Awakening” on pause, their emotions would range from disappointment to ambivalence.
“A Trump electoral loss will not have an effect on my belief in facts that are already proven,” Q follower Steve (not his real name) told the Daily Dot. Another, Shelley, echoed Steve’s resolve, saying “Nothing would alter my belief in Q. Setting aside my belief in Q, if Biden won anything, I would probably attribute it to CHEATING at the polls.”
And Calvin, another Q follower, was in this camp as well, saying, “I’m okay with no mass arrests if there is still a handful of big-time arrests and prosecution.”
But QAnon is a movement that easily factionalizes and harbors disagreements among believers. Some were not only pessimistic about the potential of mass arrests under Biden, but downright despondent.
QAnon follower Mark summed up his dejected feelings as “the fall of America into socialism, communism, [and] the whole world will have no hope and fall into darkness.”
Another follower, Ben, was similarly apocalyptic, telling the Daily Dot: “I would be disappointed and know that we will permanently lose our constitutional rights, the economy, [and] we would be under the New World Order.” And as Bill (not his real name) put it bluntly, “If there are no arrests then Q is not real.”
As for how a Trump electoral loss would affect their belief in Q, most responses were of the same apocalyptic tone. To many of these people, a Biden victory would be a tell-tale sign that evil had won out over good, and perhaps that America was doomed.
“I don’t know if I’d have a different belief in Q, but I’d think that the narrative of Q wouldn’t hold any water or value anymore,” Bill said. “Because if you’re looking through the Q lens, Joe Biden is just as guilty as all of them. So if he gets in office I don’t see Q having any more value.”
Ben was even more dire, writing to the Daily Dot that “Q wouldn’t survive under a globalist puppet president, it would have to become a civil war revolution. There would be no future. […] Christianity would be outlawed one way or another. It would be the end of American values, [and] the end of our Constitution. [W]e would be better under British rule as we would lose the American liberty experiment.”
Or as Q follower Brandon said, “If Biden wins, Q will be no more.”
But like the first question, not everyone Daily Dot spoke to had such a dark cloud hanging over their head about belief in Q after a Biden win.
Other respondents made it clear that they will believe in Q no matter what happens in November, and that Biden’s win might bring even more people to Q’s posts. For example, Steve told Daily Dot that “a Biden presidency would most likely fuel the Q movement further, if anything.”
Finally, asking Q followers how they thought a Biden presidency might change the trajectory of the Q movement brought little clarity to Q’s future. But it made clear that Q adherents think that Joe Biden is both mentally incompetent and/or the vessel through which America will be destroyed.
“Who would trust senile, corrupt, Quid Pro Quo Joe to run our nation?” Shelley rhetorically asked. “Whoever would vote for Joe must surely be mentally deficient him/herself.” Bill claimed that “A Biden presidency would mean the people up top are fully in control. It’d show that the Q movement had a good motive ‘to save the children’ but failed.”
On an even more end times bent, Ben claimed that “Biden has dementia or a deteriorating brain,” and that “he would be removed via 25th Amendment and then we would have Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama,” which he believes would start a series of events including the murder of Supreme Court justices, mass gun confiscation, and civil war.
And Mark had similar “end of days” thoughts, writing that “many military personnel are ready to take the county back by any means necessary” leading to “total chaos” and the beginning of “the 7-year tribulation” prophesied in the Book of Revelation.
This is just a small slice of a growing and fractious movement. QAnon followers are notorious for arguing among themselves about aspects of the conspiracy theory, like endlessly debating whether JFK Jr. is alive.
But it’s clear from these responses that at least some Q believers will never abandon the movement, and while a Biden victory will frustrate some, it will energize others—meaning that whatever QAnon looks like with Trump out of office, it will possibly angrier and more emboldened than ever.