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Alleged ideology of Buffalo shooting suspect believed by most Trump voters, poll says

"Replacement theory" claims immigrants are part of an evil, anti-American plot — and polling suggests most Trump voters believe it.


A new poll suggests a majority of Republicans believe in the racist theory that allegedly motivated the suspect in the deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, this month. And an even larger share of Republicans believe racism against white people is “as big a problem” as racism against Black people, according to the poll. 

It’s a sign of the extent to which white racial resentment has consumed the Republican Party. 

The poll, released last week by Yahoo News and YouGov, found 61 percent of people who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election believe “a group of people in this country are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants and people of color who share their political views.”

The Republican Party has made itself a safe haven for racist white people who obsess over their purported loss of status.

It's the precise theory invoked in the racist document allegedly written by the Buffalo shooting suspect, whom police say livestreamed himself gunning down Black shoppers in a Tops supermarket. And it’s seeing fervent uptake by supporters of Trump, an authoritarian fanboy who still enjoys widespread favorability in his party.

There’s truly no doubt as to how this concept — known as "replacement theory" became popular among the GOP. Trump ramped up the party’s racist rhetoric during his campaign and in office, whether through his baseless allegation that Mexico was “sending” rapists and drug criminals into the United States; his complaint that migrants from mostly Black countries were leaving “s---holes” to come to the U.S.; or his frequent claims that immigrants coming through our southern border constituted an “invasion.” 

Several other right-wing lawmakers, from Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have made similar claims that echo replacement theory. Fox News host Tucker Carlson has also helped peddle it. And as I wrote last week, this tradition of right-wing fear-mongering has a direct link to various forms of extremist violence

That so many conservatives buy into this fear-mongering is a testament to its success. And several mass shootings suggest one needn’t question where those racist emotions lead any longer

The man suspected of fatally shooting 23 people in a Texas Walmart in 2019 allegedly decried a “Hispanic invasion" and reportedly told authorities he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible. The man suspected of gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 allegedly wrote about Jews bringing “invaders” (read: immigrants) to “kill our people.” And the white supremacists who marched at the deadly “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

The Republican Party has made itself a safe haven for racist white people who obsess over their purported loss of status.