Election Perceptions and Reactions

BRENNA MUELLER | THE SPECTRUM

Democrats have been yelling about Russian interference since President Trump was elected. This time, they might be right.

Facebook admitted to selling advertisements to Russian companies approaching the 2016 presidential election. Why did these companies want these ads? Maybe just for a few clicks, maybe to sway the 2016 Presidential election. Nobody can be sure.

Thomas Ambrosio, professor of political science at North Dakota State, commented.

His first question about the event was, “What is fake news?” Were the ads completely made up, intend to tear town Clinton’s campaign or simply biased to get clicks from people who were already Trump supporters? “Any news has bias,” Ambrosio said. “Any news has an agenda behind it.”

He continued, “How much was the Russian government involved? Nobody has established a link for this. Nobody could verify that the Russian government intentionally tried to tear down the Clinton campaign. These ads could merely be the result of overseas companies causing chaos in the U.S.”

Furthermore, Ambrosio said that not even Trump expected himself to win, so the assumption that these ads were intended to sway the public’s mind isn’t his first assumption on the topic. There are so many variables that go into winning an election, but could online ads really be the tipping point?

Ambrosia is skeptical of the evidence provided by the U.S. government regarding Russia’s interference with the election. “I’ve read the reports they’ve released, and it was questionable. They did not state any evidence … they provide evidence with Russian interference with other things: a document that was a couple years old; it had nothing to do with this election.”

They wrapped this speculation around evidence of fact that didn’t actually relate to the event.

There’s a lot of speculation going on with very little evidence to back it up. Overall, this is just another partisan debate.

It’s a political tendency for the minority party to believe in secondary reasons for why their party didn’t do as well as they would have expected. Immediately following Trump’s win, the Democrats began blaming Russia. It was already a partisan debate, and this further strengthens the Democrat’s arguments and reasoning.

“We interfere in elections all the time, and political systems, we just don’t like it when to happens to us,” Ambrosio said, pointing out that this happens globally every day. When a country has an interest they feel is important to pursue they will, regardless of if they need to interfere with a different country’s politics or not.

Abrasion said that he wouldn’t be surprised if this came from Russian powers, but that, as a country, we can’t know what their motivations were. It’s part of the political game.

Ambrosio also believes that social media has less of an impact than perceived. People have been leaking information to news sources since news sources were created; social media just makes that easier.

The question Ambrosio wanted answered more than anything else was, who reads these things? He stated that he spends enough time online to have come across them, but never found one in the duration of the election process.

The only difference he sees between this interference and past interferences is that this was a close and shocking election. He understands that people like to point this out because it makes Trump lose legitimacy, but that focusing on just one cause of moving the needle one way or the other simply isn’t legitimate.

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