45% of Americans baselessly believe that Jeffrey Epstein was murdered according to a new poll by Insider conducted on Surveymonkey Audience.
That's up from 34% when measured by Emerson Polling in August. Only 16% believe he died by suicide, down from 33%.
New York City's chief medical examiner, who conducted an autopsy of Epstein's body, said he died by suicide in his jail cell. The Justice Department says surveillance footage shows no one went near that cell on the night he died.
Yet the "Jeffrey Epstein was murdered" conspiracy theory persists, in part bolstered by President Donald Trump himself.
It doesn't help that Attorney General Bill Barr, who oversaw the investigation into Epstein's death, has little credibility after he misled the public about the Mueller Report and has allied himself with Trump.
More Americans than ever believe in the baseless conspiracy theory that Jeffrey Epstein was murdered.
According to a new poll conducted by Insider, 45% of Americans believe the disgraced financier and sex offender was murdered, 16% believe he died by suicide, and 39% are unsure.
There is no evidence that Epstein died by anything other than suicide. New York City's chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, conducted an autopsy and determined shortly after his death that he died after hanging himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell on August 10, a conclusion backed by the Department of Justice.
And yet the number of Americans who believe Jeffrey Epstein was murdered has gone up, and the number who believe he died by suicide has gone down.
Insider used identical framing as an Emerson poll taken in August, shortly after his death, asking respondents "Do you think Jeffrey Epstein was murdered or committed suicide?" In that poll, 34% of Americans said they believed he was murdered, 33% believed he died by suicide, and 32% were unsure.
The conspiracy theory has gone viral, backed by public figures
There are several reasons why the conspiracy persists and has seemingly grown more popular.
"Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself" has become a meme, bolstered by his connections to powerful people — including Bill Gates, Prince Andrew, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and President Donald Trump — and the suspicion that he had compromising information about them. In October, Michael Baden, a celebrity forensic pathologist hired by Epstein's brother, said on Fox News that it was possible he was strangled. And GOP Rep. Paul Ghosar has pushed the meme on his Twitter account, as did a former Navy SEAL on Fox News.
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Trump himself amplified the theory in August when he retweeted a supporter who baselessly blamed the Clintons on Epstein's death, saying "#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he's dead I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this!"
Trump doubled down on the tweet despite the fury of FBI agents, who warned that the conspiracy theory was dangerous.
The Justice Department hasn't successfully set the record straight
The Justice Department appeared to put the final word on the issue in November. It charged two officers responsible for supervising Epstein the night of his death with allegedly failing to conduct their mandated rounds and forging records to show they did. (The officers have pleaded not guilty.)
Tucked inside the charges, the indictment said that surveillance footage inside the jail showed that no one entered the area where his cell was held on the night of his death, further refuting conspiracy theories.
Attorney General William Barr later told the Associated Press he personally backed the conclusion that Epstein's death was a suicide.
"I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups," he said.
Getty Images; AP Photo/Alex Brandon
It should ease minds that the charges brought against the two officers that were supposed to be monitoring Epstein's cell were filed by the United States Attorney's Office at the Southern District of New York, which operates with some independence from Barr's office. The SDNY is also investigating Trump on several fronts.
And if all this conspiracy talk worries you, there is one small silver lining: Belief in Epstein conspiracy theories are now more bipartisan. According to the August Emerson poll, 46% of Republicans believed Epstein was murdered compared to 26% of Democrats. Insider's new poll, by comparison, shows 56% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats believing in the conspiracy theory. People on both sides of the aisle appear almost equally prone to conspiracies now.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,017 respondents collected November 22-23, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.16 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.