From Harold Breaux of Aberdeen:
On January 20, 2017 the Dagger posted my note titled “Mathematics Shows that Fake News Elected Trump as President”. This note included an abstract of a paper with pointers to the full paper posted on my web site. In the intervening year this topic has gained considerable national attention with a focus on alleged Russian involvement in the creation of chaos in the election through Russian operatives accelerating negative portrayal of Hillary Clinton to include Fake News with the intent of electing Trump as President. This includes a paper titled “Assessing Russian activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections” by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence” released in January 2017. Despite this official government paper, and its conclusions by U.S. Intelligence Agencies , President Trump, throughout this past year, continually made reference to Russian involvement as a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats because they lost the election”. Even today one finds headlines such as “ 49% of Republicans Still Don’t Believe Russians Tried to Influence the Election.” The proverbial other shoe fell on Friday, February 16 as U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 13 Russian operatives for their involvement in a massive operation using social media, Fake News and related efforts “for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and election processes” – in effect to elect Trump as President.
Three weeks ago, on January 25, 2018 I posted a follow-up paper on my website (Title, Introduction and Conclusion listed below).
In my first paper and this paper I note “Any effort to apply mathematics to social and political phenomena is fraught with difficulty. Unlike Physics and Mathematics there are no (or few) accepted theories or fields to which agreed upon formulas can be attached.”
In this second paper I note: “ As a result analysts may draw different conclusions primarily because exposure and persuasion rates (to Fake News) are subject to uncertainty. However, information that has come to light in the interim suggests the need to reexamine the issue in depth. Revelations since that time have found that some states “were targeted” by Fake News and that the reach and the exposure rate due to Russian “meddling” was far greater than known at the time and the Fake News stories were more slanted for Trump than was represented in the January paper.”
The question of whether Fake News was pivotal in the 2016 presidential Election has been the subject of several academic papers including a January 2017 “working paper” by Allcott and Gentzkow titled “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election”. The key finding in their paper was the observation that for Fake News to have been pivotal in the election “would require that one Fake News story would have to have been as effective as 36 ordinary TV campaign commercials.” In referencing this observation numerous articles in the press have echoed the implicit conclusion that Fake News was not pivotal in the election.
In my current paper I point out that Allcott and Gentzkow refer to the literature reporting a 50 fold range variation in the effectiveness of campaign commercials and that their above referenced conclusion was based on the lowest estimated value of .02% persuasion rate for campaign commercials. In questioning this comparison I note that Fake News such as a.) “Clinton aides say Foundation Paid for Chelsea’s wedding”, and b.) “the Pope endorsed Donald Trump” surely were more persuasive than a campaign commercial. In critiquing their paper and correspondence with Allcott and Gentzow, Gentzkow responded by e-mail stating “you can take our conclusion with a grain of salt.” In the spring of 2017, Allcott and Gentzkow formally published a re-write of their earlier “working paper” with the same title, made no mention of the above comparison with campaign commercials, and in the first sentence of their Conclusion stated:
“In the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election, it was alleged that fake news might have been pivotal in the election of President Trump. We do not provide an assessment of this claim one way or another.”
Last week noted attorney Lanny Davis published a book reported throughout national media titled “The Unmaking of the President 2016”. The first paragraph of the book’s Introduction reads as follows: “The Illegitimate President: Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election and Donald Trump won it for the single, decisive reason that FBI director James Comey wrote the infamous letter to Congress on October 28, 2016…”
Russian driven Fake News and the Comey letter are two of the three whammies in the title of my paper. The Introduction and Conclusion of my current paper are listed below along with the URL for my Web site which contains the full 33 page paper.
Mathematics of a Triple Whammy: How the Combination of the Comey Letter, Voter Suppression and Fake News Tilted Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and the Electoral College to Trump
Harold J. Breaux Working Paper Jan. 25, 2018
Posted on: www.complexpolitics.wordpress.com
The publication of the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff heightened the national angst over the first year of the presidency of Donald Trump. This associated fury includes the natural question of “how did this Presidency occur?” Independent of this recent focus the die was already cast for Historians and Political Scientists to be addressing the question. This paper addresses and answers the question. The answer lies through a quirk provided by a Triple Whammy: a.)The FBI James Comey October 28, 2016 letter to Congress, b.)Republican Driven Voter Suppression and c.) Russian Driven Fake News. Donald Trump became President despite losing the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.9 million votes. The three swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (hereafter referred to as MWP) provided the winning margin in the anachronistic Electoral College. Numerous articles appear in the press describing specific, single or individual components of the triple whammy and the likely effect on Trump’s margin in MWP and how these three states may have tilted the Electoral College. In an article titled “How to Hijack an Election”, deBuys addresses all three factors in a generalized description but his lack of any numerical accounting allows the issue to fester without any definitive conclusion (aggravated by Trump’s tweets about the brilliance of his victory). This paper goes beyond deBuy’s analysis by examining, gleaning and coalescing actual facts and data from various research studies on each of the three components and then showing, with detailed mathematical accounting , how the aggregate vote impact of the three, individually and collectively, in each MWP state, more than exceeded Trump’s MWP margins- and thus led to his gaining the Presidency.
Trump’s view of the Electoral College is memorialized by Abadi .
“However, back in 2012 Trump was denouncing the very system that would eventually hand him the presidency. It was election night, and for a brief time, it seemed that Republican nominee Mitt Romney might win the popular vote over Barack Obama, while still losing the electoral vote.”
Abadi lists the Trump Tweet storm that ensued in this interim:
*The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy
* This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!
*He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country. This tweet was later deleted.
* More votes equals a loss… revolution!
*The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one (sic)!
Romney’s early lead in the popular vote did not hold up and Obama eventually won with 51.1% of the vote.
Conclusion: The Triple Whammy led to Trump Winning the Electoral College Votes of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and the Presidency in 2016
This paper, using data from public sources and Congressional Hearings, detailed analysis and mathematics, using very conservative estimates, leads to the following:
I. The Comey Letter effect was more than enough to exceed the Trump margin in each of the three MWP states. Only 8% (one twelfth) of the Comey 2.8% effect was needed to tilt Michigan and 27% (roughly one fourth) of the 2.8% was needed to switch Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
II. The analysis shows that in Michigan, Trump’s margin was so small that the projected effect of any of the three whammies alone, the Comey Letter, Operation Crosscheck or Fake News created the margin.
III. Trump’s margin in Wisconsin was so small that analysis shows that omitting the Comey effect, Voter Suppression through ID Checks alone was sufficient to tilt Wisconsin.
IV. Fake News alone, when using the exposure rate based on the Intelligence and Congressional Findings and using realistic Persuasion Rates was enough to tilt all three MWP states and the election to Trump.
It was shown that three factors, the Comey Letter, Voter Suppression (Voter ID and Operation Crosscheck) and Fake News taken alone (individually) or in combination more than establish the thesis of this paper.