- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nearly half of registered Republicans believe Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign is implicated in a satanic child abuse ring operated from beneath a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, according to the results of a new poll released this week.

In spite of being debunked and refuted as a baseless conspiracy theory, 49 percent of Republicans questioned during a recent YouGov/Economist survey said there’s at least some truth to the so-called “Pizzagate” scandal said to involve Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

Pollsters questioned 1,376 adults between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20 on various topics concerning the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including a handful involving conspiracy theories discussed during the course of the latest White House race.

Americans are more likely to buy into certain theories depending on their own political leanings, pollsters indicated Tuesday, and are often inclined to subscribe to politically-charged arguments even after they’ve been widely refuted.

Among the questions asked by pollsters was whether respondents believed that leaked emails stolen from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager and published by WikiLeaks prior to the Nov. 8 election “contained code words for pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse — what some people refer to as ‘Pizzagate.’ “

More than a third of American adults said the so-called Pizzagate accusations involving Mrs. Clinton’s staff were “probably” or “definitely” true, as did nearly half of registered Republicans, according to pollsters.

Specifically, 9 percent of registered Republicans who responded to the question said the allegations were “definitely true,” coupled with 40 percent of Republicans casting the claim as “probably true.”

By comparison, 5 percent and 19 percent of Democrats surveyed said the claims were definitely true or probably true, respectively, indicating nearly one-in-four members of Mrs. Clinton’s own party believes her campaign has ties to a supposedly satanic pizza joint.

Taken into consideration the answers of all respondents regardless of political affiliation, 38 percent said the claims concerning Pizzagate were either “definitely true” or “probably true,” according to the results of the poll.

This skepticism, as noted by pollsters, was evident in spite of accusations involving Pizzagate being widely rejected in recent weeks after a 28-year-old North Carolin residents drove to the nation’s capital armed with an AR-15-style rifle to “self-investigate” the theory.

Police say Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, fired three shots inside the restaurant Comet Ping Pong on the afternoon of Dec. 4 while looking for evidence of child trafficking. He was subsequently charged with multiple felonies and pleaded not guilty in federal court.

Similarly, pollsters noted that political affiliation appeared to play a part in how respondents answered to a separate question concerning the Russian government’s purported use of computer hacks and email leaks to interfere in last month’s White House race.

Although the U.S. intelligence community, President Obama and members of Congress have all concluded that the Russian government directed cyberattacks that successfully targeted Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, among other victims, Republicans surveyed were less inclined to accept the Kremlin’s role, according to pollsters.

When asked if Russians hacked the emails of Democrats in order to increase the chance of the GOP candidate, Donald Trump, defeating Mrs. Clinton, 73 percent of Republicans surveyed said the claims were either “probably not true” or “definitely not true.”

On the flip side, 75 percent of Democrats surveyed said they believed Russia was either likely or certainly behind a pro-Trump cyber campaign, the results revealed.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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