WashPo: ‘That Sophisticated, Specific Russian 2016 Voter Targeting Effort Doesn’t Seem to Exist’

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by Chris Menahan, Information Liberation:

Facebook data indicates Russians did not specifically target voters in swing states to sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump, according to a report shared Wednesday in The Washington Post.

Philip Bump writes in The Washington Post, “That sophisticated, specific Russian 2016 voter targeting effort doesn’t seem to exist”:

The revelation on Tuesday that Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had shared polling data with a colleague in Ukraine who had ties to Russian intelligence predictably kicked up a furor of speculation about the significance of the move. This is what one of the Russia-Trump collusion scenarios looks like: someone from Team Trump passing data to the Russians that the latter group could use to target voters and influence the election. After all, the common understanding is that Russia’s interference efforts included sophisticated targeting of specific voting groups on Facebook, which could have made the difference in states that Trump narrowly won on his way to an electoral-vote victory.

That understanding about Russia’s sophisticated targeting, though, is not supported by the evidence — if it’s not flat-out wrong.

[…] Most of the ads purchased by the Russians didn’t specify a geographic target smaller than the United States on the whole, according to a Post review of the ads released by the House Intelligence Committee. Those that did target specific states heavily targeted those that weren’t really considered targets of the 2016 election, such as Missouri and Maryland. And of those ads that did target specific states, most happened well before or well after the final weeks of the campaign.

We looked at this broadly in May when the data were first released. The Russian effort included launching Facebook (and subsidiary Instagram) ads each month from June 2015 to May 2017 (plus some in July and August of that year).

More than half of the actual clicks on ads, in fact, came after the election.

What we hadn’t done, though, is overlay when ads ran with geographic targeting. The map below does precisely that, counting campaigns that ran in full or in part in any given month, regardless of the success of the campaigns.

A few things to notice immediately: There was an early push to target ads in Missouri, Maryland and Ohio. That’s in part because the Russians had started assessing American politics in 2014 and seized on the polarized Black Lives Matter movement as a focus of energy. A lot of the ads in those states in that time period actually targeted specific cities or regions, like Baltimore and Ferguson where there had been days-long protests.

The black bars indicate campaigns that ran in October 2016 or in the first eight days of November; that is, until Election Day. You’ll notice that two of the states where the most ads ran were Texas and New York — neither of which was considered close in the final weeks of the campaign. States that Trump won narrowly — specifically Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — saw very few campaigns and, per our count, were seen by fewer than 1,000 people in the last five weeks before the election.

The most successful of the ads that ran in those three states at the end of the campaign, it seems, was this one — which ran not only in Michigan, but also California, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Not exactly a strong exhortation to vote for Trump.

This whole Russia witch hunt is the biggest hoax of all time.

On Wednesday, The New York Times “corrected” their story on Paul Manafort allegedly giving some mostly public polling data to “a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin” named Oleg Deripaska. They said the data was instead allegedly passed on to “two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov” who had “financed Russian-aligned Ukrainian political parties that had hired Mr. Manafort as a political consultant.”

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