Less than half of Republican primary voters reject Jade Helm conspiracy theory

Yesterday, Public Policy Polling released a national poll with familiar toplines. Scott Walker narrowly leads the GOP pack, Hillary Clinton holds a commanding 60% of the Democratic field and Chris Christie has absolutely no chance of becoming President. Ever.

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have also seen declines in their support among Republican primary voters. The poll was launched before Bush doubled down on his support for going back in time and re-invading Iraq, so it’s unclear to what extent, if any, his bad week contributed to his bad numbers.

However, Public Policy Polling, with their penchant for asking questions that poke the id of the Republican base, polled likely GOP primary voters on the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory.

Jade Helm 15 is a series of military training exercises that are scheduled to take place throughout the country later this summer, with more of the training taking place in Texas due to its mix of urban and rural settings. The exercises are part of regular military training that takes place all the time, and the military obtains permission from landowners and local governments before conducting exercises on their land.

Nevertheless, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has instructed the Texas State Guard to monitor the Jade Helm 15 exercises that are conducted in Texas, as if the Texas State Guard would stand a chance against US Special Forces if in fact the United States was planning to take over the state and impose martial law, as right-wing conspiracy theorists suspect.

Of course, as the National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg pointed out, “the United States government already controls Texas. It’s party of the country.” So what exactly do these Republican voters think the government plans to do once they’ve taken over?

Despite there being no reason for Texans to grab their bug-out bags and run to the nearest fallout shelter, PPP found that 32% of Republican primary voters think that the government is trying to take over the state of Texas. Only 40% of GOP primary voters think that the government definitely isn’t trying to take over the state, while 28% are not sure.

This is likely due to the fact that Texas politicians, from Abbott to Ted Cruz to Louie Gohmert, haven’t exactly dispelled rumors that the government has the Alamo in its crosshairs.

Last week, Cruz called suspicions regarding Jade Helm 15 the “natural consequence” of an untrustworthy federal government.

Gohmert built upon that theme, writing in a statement:

Louie Gohmert, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Louie Gohmert, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance. Because of the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs, it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious…

…Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

While the crosstabs include smaller sample sizes, and therefore should be taken with a pinch of salt, PPP found that 56% of Ted Cruz voters and 76% (!) of Rick Perry voters think that the government is preparing to invade and reconstitute the Lone Star State, presumably as a neo-Marxist crypto-fascist dystopia with Sharia law and mandatory gay abortions. Because Obama.

To Perry’s credit, he dispelled the conspiracy theory, albeit in as diplomatic a way as possible so as not to tell three quarters of his supporters that they’re nuts, saying to Fox News that “I don’t think it’s healthy to question the military.”

Of course, since Cruz and Perry are trailing badly in the race, Scott Walker still leads among Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theorists with 23% support to 18% for Cruz.

This is going to be a long, long primary season.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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