Conspiracy theories are nothing new in the realm of United States politics, particularly with the internet allowing them to proliferate. It’s something else to have a Presidential candidate, much less a favorite to win a nomination, promoting them. In fact, it’s actually helping Trump’s campaign.
There are a handful of conspiracy theories Trump has mentioned in recent months. Most notable is questioning Antonin Scalia’s death, noting that a pillow was found on his head (implying that foul play may have been a factor). Before running for President, Trump famously went after Obama relentlessly for his birth certificate, aligning himself with and practically championing the “birther movement”. He’s also supported the idea that vaccinations can cause autism and has denied climate change science.
Why would a candidate say such things, and more importantly, why would voters see this as a good quality? Firstly, his campaign has very much been centered on saying sensational things, and then taking advantage of the media attention that follows. It also fits well with his base: more than a third of Republican voters feel there is a secret Illuminati group that runs the world, while the percentage is much lower with Democrats. That one-third is not significant in a general election, but in a primary season it can swing votes. Whether or not Trump actually believes these conspiracy theories is up for debate, but it’s fairly conclusive that it’s helped his campaign at this stage.