A little more than a week ago, former President Jimmy Carter broke his silence and asserted that what we’ve suspected of the 2016 election all along: Donald Trump only won it because of Russian interference. Then, shortly thereafter, two new studies regarding Russian meddling were released, both of which appear to substantiate Carter’s claim.
First, it was Politico’s report based on a 150-page+ white paper that it received from the Pentagon, entitled “Russian Strategic Intentions.” In the white paper, it is stated that the United States is basically asleep at the wheel and is vastly underestimating Russia as it continues its aggressive campaign to undermine democracies around the world.
To make matters worse, the paper continues with this critical observation, stating Russia’s efforts “are most effective when the target is deeply polarized or lacks the capacity to resist and respond effectively to Russian aggression.”
Then, one day later, NBC News reported that a study performed by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville suggests that there is a strong correlation between Trump’s rise in popularity and Russia’s propaganda campaign through social media. Interestingly enough, the study found that for every 25,000 retweets by Russian trolls, Trump’s opinion polls increased by 1 percent.
Regardless, while neither Jimmy Carter’s claim nor the reports that followed actually prove that Russian interference swung the election in Donald Trump’s favor, you still can’t write the idea off completely. As the study’s lead researcher Damian Ruck wrote in an article for The Conversation, “we still don’t know,” but “we may be a step closer to knowing the answer” now.