In June of 2015, Donald J. Trump announced he was running for President. With the exception of IJR Reporter Joe Perticone, who drove from D.C. to NYC to watch and report on the sparsely attended event, hardly anyone blinked an eye.
Almost immediately, to the surprise of pundits and late-night comedians alike, he began rising in the polls. Ben Carson came within 7 percentage points for a brief moment in time, but Trump was almost always on top of the Republican primary.
Still, a theory first floated by Al Sharpton in a tongue-in-cheek segment, and later tweeted by Jeb Bush, continued to bob just above the surface, never quite vanishing.
This conspiracy theory began traveling almost as an Internet meme. Actress Jennifer Lawrence jokingly claimed Trump running was “Hillary's brilliant idea” and both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal floated the idea in separate columns.
A subreddit called “Trump is a Plant” appeared.
We ran a poll that received 1,534 votes - 33% of respondents said “Yes.”
The basic explanation made some sense. Donald Trump is arguably the most outspoken Presidential candidate in modern times. If a Mitt Romney or a John McCain had called Mexicans rapists and had been caught on tape describing himself sexually assaulting women, they almost definitely would have sunk further in the polls.
A telephone call between Trump and Bill Clinton just days before he announced, also sent many conspiracy theorists' tinfoil hats whirling.
To this day, 16 months later, we still don't know what that conversation was. If one was to believe that a sort of “global elitist” alliance that the Clintons, Bushes and Trumps all belong to - the theory makes even more sense.
And Donald Trump's previously friendly relationship with the Clintons can't be discounted. He can still be found on the Clinton Foundation's website, having donated as much as 250K to the Clinton's organization.
The strongest argument, proposed by comedians and political experts alike, is that Donald Trump is the only person Hillary Clinton could beat.
Still, the evidence against is very significant. If Donald Trump truly is a Democratic Plant, he's not doing a very good job. As the polls roll out today, his chances of winning, while small, remain viable. For those people who don't believe in conspiracies, but do believe in superstitions, this tweet is well in favor of Mr. Trump.
Further, while Secretary Clinton is polling lower than some expected, she did win a hotly contested Democratic primary.
The mere suggestion that Donald Trump is a plant would also be an insult to many of his avid followers, who wait up to 10 hours in line just to see Mr. Trump at a rally.
Still, to Hillary supporters and Never Trumpers, it remains a possibility.
What do you think?