As a matter of campaign strategy, Trump’s anti-trafficking announcement and frequent winks at QAnon are a curious thing in that they’re not necessary to retain the Q vote. QAnon support for Trump doesn’t depend on any public endorsement or real-life anti-trafficking program (he’s supposed to be fighting the cabal in secret, after all). Q’s true believers are remarkably impervious to assaults on what has become for them “not a theory or a set of beliefs but an entire social ontology,” as my colleague Matthew Walther put it. Remember, the very first Q prediction failed — and that mattered not at all. There’s always an explanation, always a way to fit any and every event into the Q framework. Trump could denounce QAnon on Twitter every morning, and the QAnon crowd would likely take to parsing his denouncements for coded messages of support.
Nevertheless, there are a handful of plausible benefits for Trump here. One is that his criticism of child abuse and trafficking could calm some voters’ qualms about his administration’s own practice of child abuse in the form of family separations at the border. (The separations are very unpopular, even among Trump’s most loyal demographics.) Another is that riling up the QAnon crowd can make them dogged Trump advocates among their friends right before Election Day. Research shows knowing if and how our friends vote can significantly influence our voting choices. A third possible benefit is neutralization of reputational damage done by reports of Trump’s long friendship with alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.