Photo By: 
Mike MacKenzie

Study Proves Fake News Won Trump the Election

A study from Ohio State found that fake news convinced 4% of voters not to vote for Clinton

Brian Young's picture
Apr 06, 2018

The effect that fake news had on the 2016 election has been hotly debated over the last year and a half. UCOMM has covered the criticism that social media sites like Facebook have taken for failing to stop it and allowing stolen data to be used to target these ads. While the term “fake news” has gotten blown way out of proportion, with people like Trump using it to refer to any news that is negative for him, many do believe that this fake news had a significant impact on changing peoples votes. A new study by professors at Ohio State University may now have come up with a way to quantify that impact.

The study found that fake news had a significant impact on the election, finding that if you were exposed to fake news you were 4x more likely to vote against Hillary Clinton or not vote at all. To determine this, the researchers gave 585 Obama supporters a 281-question survey. Of the people in the group, 23% did not vote for Clinton, either abstaining from voting or voting for another candidate. 10% said that their other vote was for Trump. As part of the 281 questions, the researchers placed three stories that were extremely popular during the campaign but were fake. Those stories were:

  • Clinton was in “very poor health due to a serious illness”  
  • Pope Francis endorsed Trump
  • Clinton approved weapons sales to Islamic jihadists, “including ISIS”

They then asked the people in the group to identify which of the stories were true. Overall about 25% of the Obama supporters said that at least one of the fake news stories were true. Of those that believed at least one of the fake news stories, only 61% voted for Clinton and if you believed two or three, that percentage dropped to only 17%. Of the people who believed none of the stories were true, 89% voted for Clinton.

This means that if you believed one of the fake news stories that the Russians and Trump pushed out during the campaign, you were significantly more likely to vote for someone other than Clinton. Clinton only lost Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by 77,744 votes or 0.6%, meaning that a 4% swing of voters voting against her or not showing up to polls could very well have cost her the election.

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