Well, you sure as hell won’t hear this one being nattered over on the Fox and Friends comfy couch any morning in the foreseeable future. Axios is reporting that a newly released study shows a direct correlation between Russian troll Twitter activity and Trump’s poll numbers during the 2016 election cycle.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and published in the University of Illinois “First Monday”magazine shows that, despite frequent baa-baa-baa’s from Glorious Bleater, there is a direct correlation between Russian Twitter troll activity in 2016, and a rise in Trump’s poll numbers.
The study was quick to point out that a correlation does not necessarily result in a causation. basically meaning that an increase in Russian troll tweets about a Trump comment causing a spike in polling does not necessarily prove that the troll tweeting caused the spike. Outside factors such as Trump’s comment going viral could also account for the spike. But, seeing as the study looked at over 770,000 Russian troll tweets, the inference is pretty clear.
Basically, the poll looked at particular tweets from Russian bots on a variety of topics, and then checked the number of retweets, and compared it to pre and post tweet polling data available on 538.com. The study came away with four basic findings;
Every 25,000 retweets of Russian accounts correlated to a 1% increase in Trump’s poll numbers one week later.
Given the frequency of tweets from Russian accounts, 25,000 retweets would average around 10 retweets per tweet.
Retweets did not have a similar effect on Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
The study also found that 91% of first retweeters of known Russian bots were non-Russian bots, “which suggests that propaganda spread into networks of real U.S. citizens.”
My biggest takeaways from those four conclusions, and damning ones they are, is this. If you combine the first two points together, based on 10 retweets per Russian bot tweet, it only took 2,500 Russian tweets to equal 25,000 retweets, which correlated to a 1 point spike for Trump in the polls. Obviously there is no way to gauge the longevity of the polling bounce. Second, the fact that Hillary Clinton received no similar bounce from retweets goes to show how willing Trump supporters were to believe Russian troll bullshit. And third, the fact that 91% of Russian bot first retweets were from non Russian bots indicates how deeply Russian bots penetrated into conservative American social media.
The study I’d give my left nut to see would be the one that looks at how many of those retweets were in those so precious micro targeted districts that Trump won to carry the electoral college, after the date that American traitor Paul Manafort gave that internal Trump campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik. Now that would be a study I’d frame and hang on the living room wall!