By AMI Newswire Reports
Russian trolls did not throw the 2016 election to President Donald J. Trump, according to a new study by Stanford and Brown University researchers. President Donald Trump’s election was likely not due to the impact of the Internet according to a new study. That study, its authors admit, includes three major assumptions.
The economists behind the study used “three measures of internet use” and three assumptions about that use to conclude that their “findings imply” that “if anything, Trump outperformed relative to trend among those groups that are least active online.” The study comes after nearly two years of accusations by Trump critics – such as general election opponent Hillary Clinton – that Russian infiltrators used the Internet to sway voters to vote for Trump.
The study published in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal used “data from the American National Election Studies (ANES) from 1996 to 2016 to study the role of the internet in the 2016 election outcome.” The authors “compare[d] trends in the Republican share of the vote between likely and unlikely internet users, and between actual internet users and non-users.”
The study’s three assumptions were that “the internet affects only by changing the partisan vote share among those active on the internet, the effects of the internet on voting behavior are identical across individuals, and no other time-varying factors affected the Republican vote share between internet-active and internet-inactive groups.”
“I’m not surprised by the research’s findings,” said 2ndVote Executive Director Robert Kuykendall, “The concept of this monolithic internet being bearing responsibility for Trump’s election is rooted in an adoption of self-blame by leftist pockets found within Silicon Valley. Big Tech’s self-absorption in its own liberal thought bubble has resulted in a ‘bargaining phase’ of grief whereby penance can only be achieved by fixing the ‘monster’ that gave them Trump.”
Two of the reports three authors are economists at Stanford University while the third is an economist affiliated with Brown University.
American Principles Project Executive Director Terry Schilling told AMI that while he is “skeptical of the study’s findings,” he also rejects the accusation that Russia’s online presence played a significant role in the election.
“I’m skeptical of the study’s findings simply because, in our experience at American Principles Project, we have seen the effectiveness of microtargeting through online ads first-hand. The average American spends more than three and a half hours a day online. Targeted online advertising works, and it produces a much higher ROI than traditional, more expensive advertising methods, such as radio, TV, etc.,” said Schilling in an e-mail.
“But it is absolutely ridiculous to say that the Russians swung the 2016 election with online ads. The most prominent Russian firm in question, the Internet Research Agency, spent just $100,000 on ads, 56 percent of which ran after the election was over. Our group spent more than three times that in a statewide gubernatorial primary earlier this year. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spent tens of millions of dollars on online ads, while outside groups also spent several million influencing the race. The Russian efforts barely registered.”
Political journalist Ben Johnson told AMI that he “would expect the internet gave Donald Trump a significant advantage in 2016.” According to Johnson, this was “not because of Russian trolls or Macedonian content farms,” but instead “because of elite media bias.”
“Traditional media coverage of Trump was 91 percent negative during the campaign, according to the Media Research Center,” continued Johnson. “Only talk radio, the internet, and word-of-mouth approached balanced coverage - and yet he won in an Electoral College landslide.”
“Decentralized, grassroots-driven communication vehicles – and a tireless speaking schedule – powered Donald Trump into the White House,” he said.
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