Political News

CNN poll: 54% say Russia-backed content on social media moved 2016 election

Posted September 22

Although President Donald Trump insists otherwise, most Americans say it's likely that Russian-backed content on social media did affect the outcome of the 2016 election, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

The poll result comes on the heels of Facebook's announcement that it would turn over to Congressional investigators information related to more than 3,000 ads the company says were sold to accounts linked to a Russian troll farm between June 2015 and May 2017. And Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said he's planning to hold a public hearing next month on Russian election interference through Facebook and other social media platforms.

Related: Full poll results

Overall, 54% say it's very or somewhat likely that such Russian-backed content on Facebook or other social media affected the 2016 presidential vote, 43% say that's not too or not at all likely. More appear to see this social media effort as having affected the outcome of the election than said so about information released due to Russian hacking. According to a CNN poll back in January, just 40% said that information was significant enough to change the outcome of the election.

Trump tweeted Friday that news about the Facebook ads was just more of the "Russia hoax."

Republicans seem to largely agree with the President. Just 15% of them say it's likely that this Russia-backed content affected the election, compared with a whopping 82% of Democrats. Independents land closer to the center: 55% see such content as affecting the outcome.

Far fewer Americans, however, believe that someone they know changed their vote as a result of such content. Just 11% say they personally know someone who did, with partisan divides here, too. Among Democrats, 18% say they know someone who did, compared with just 3% of Republicans.

Those who see Russian-backed content as having "very likely" impacted the outcome of the election are most likely to say they know someone who changed their vote, 28% say so vs. just 4% of those who say that content is less likely to have changed the outcome.

Beyond partisan gaps, views on whether this content changed the outcome are divided by education and age as well. Those with college degrees are more apt to see Russian-backed content as having had an impact on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, while those without degrees are less likely to see that connection. Among whites, the divide is stark: 55% of white college graduates say such content mattered to the outcome vs. just 40% of whites without college degrees. And almost six in 10 younger Americans say such content affected the outcome of the Clinton-Trump race (57%), compared with about half of older Americans (51%).

The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone September 17 to 20 among a random national sample of 1,053 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.

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