For the last six years, Democrats have been generally unified in believing that Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, helped deliver the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump.
Trump’s Democratic opponent that year, Hillary Clinton, has said this. Former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said this. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said this. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made a career off of saying this. To this day, an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters believe this.
Here we go again, again.
"These tactics echo Russian election interference on social media four years ago when operatives working for the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency focused heavily on America's racial divisions."https://t.co/GdIX9T2zJM
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) October 30, 2020
Never mind that a two-year probe conducted by Robert Mueller proved Democrats’ ‘Russian collusion’ conspiracy theory not to be true. Never mind that the recent release of Trump’s tax returns also showed it not to be true.
Now, even the Washington Post is saying it’s not true!
When Mueller came up empty-handed in 2019, disappointed Democrats still insisted that Russia had used trolls or bots on social media to steer the election toward Trump. Yet, the Washington Post’s Tim Starks reported on Monday (emphasis added), “Russian influence operations on Twitter in the 2016 presidential election reached relatively few users, most of whom were highly partisan Republicans, and the Russian accounts had no measurable impact in changing minds or influencing voter behavior, according to a study out this morning.”
.@SpeakerPelosi and I agree:
Congress needs to establish an investigative body like the 9/11 Commission to determine Trump's ties to Putin so we can repair the damage to our national security and prevent a puppet from occupying the presidency ever again. pic.twitter.com/yR7LQmXm5Z
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 18, 2021
“The study, which the New York University Center for Social Media and Politics helmed, explores the limits of what Russian disinformation and misinformation was able to achieve on one major social media platform in the 2016 elections,” the Post noted.
The story continued, “’My personal sense coming out of this is that this got way overhyped,’ Josh Tucker, one of the report’s authors who is also the co-director of the New York University center, told me about the meaningfulness of the Russian tweets.”
The story contains many details and statistics, but the grand takeaway and WaPo’s headline—“Russian trolls on Twitter had little influence on 2016 voters”—tell us fairly conclusively that at least on Twitter, the minimal amount of interference Russia committed also had minimal influence on the election.
After the 2016 election, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Amy Klobuchar went to Ukraine and declared that Russia attacked the USA by hacking the election.
The election wasn’t hacked but they didn’t care. pic.twitter.com/wncJEYJlDX
— Maze (@mazemoore) January 9, 2023
So, at this point, saying Russia hacked or stole the 2016 election through Twitter bots is about as silly as saying your Uncle Fred and his Trump-loving bar buddies’ tweets stole the election.
That said, do I think this and all the other evidence available that Russia did not steal the election in 2016 will make Democrats change their minds about their favorite conspiracy theory? About as much as Republicans who thought Barack Obama was really born in Kenya are ever going to give up on finding his “real” birth certificate.