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How Republican Voters Took QAnon Mainstream

Then there were people like Ms. Putnam, the party chairwoman, who is in her 70s. She has served the local Republican Party in some capacity for most of the past 30 years. Her views, Ms. Putnam said, have evolved with the party, but she added, “I’ve always been a true conservative.”

She acknowledged that meant something different back when she was a girl. “There wouldn’t be that much difference between Dwight Eisenhower and any of the Democrats,” she said. “And even going back to John Kennedy, even though he was a Democrat and everyone knew that he was more liberal than the conservative Republican, still his political policies were not so drastically different.”

In her estimation, what changed was the proliferation of news sources on the internet — “people’s eyes began to be open to what was really happening” — and, most recently, Mr. Trump’s decision to run for president.

“Once he came down the escalator and announced his candidacy, people knew from the beginning he would be different,” Ms. Putnam said. “He couldn’t be bought; he doesn’t take his salary. So he can’t be manipulated or controlled by financial contributions. He’s his own man.”

She, too, was drawn to QAnon after seeing the resistance to Mr. Trump in Washington.

“People know there’s more going on than the public is aware of,” she said. “Donald Trump is trying to expose all of the corruption.”

Ms. Greene, for her part, does her best to play it straight, now that she is in a general election, facing a somewhat broader ideological array of voters. Her stump speech makes no mention of QAnon or shadowy suspicions, and there is little hint of the unhinged conspiracy theorist that she was portrayed as by her opponents in the primary.

A political novice who declined an interview request, Ms. Greene knows how to work a crowd like a veteran. She cracks jokes and dispenses with any trappings of formality. Most important, she leaves little doubt where she stands on Mr. Trump.

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