[After warnings it could go off the rails, the election actually ran smoothly.]
Pennsylvania saw more misinformation on Election Day, especially around allegations of fraud or election stealing, than other states before the polls closed, according to misinformation researchers.
Zignal Labs, a media insights company, tracked keywords related to “steal” or “stealing” the election during the first 18½ hours of Tuesday. The keywords were mentioned together with Pennsylvania at a rate 6.4 times higher than the next-highest state, Kansas (which was followed by Texas, Michigan and Florida), the company found.
During that period, Zignal found that keywords related to “stealing” and the election hit 119,000 mentions across cable television, social media, and print and online news outlets. One viral hashtag in particular, #StopTheSteal, made the mentions spike from a few dozen to over 2,000 in 15 minutes on Tuesday morning, researchers found. It was mentioned over 12,800 times on Twitter by noon.
Within this set of mentions, Pennsylvania saw 8,150 related to Democrats stealing the election, buoyed by articles published on right-wing outlets such as The Gateway Pundit and National Post. Notable figures like Mike Roman, the Trump campaign’s director of Election Day operations, also pushed mentions up.
“ILLEGAL campaigning INSIDE of a polling location in Philly,” Mr. Roman said in a post that was shared 13,200 times on Twitter. “Man in blue is handing out DEM literature to voters IN LINE TO VOTE.”
An analysis by The New York Times’s Visual Investigations unit found that the two photos Mr. Roman shared did not appear to match. Twitter labeled the tweet “misleading” and later “manipulated,” and a spokeswoman said the company had labeled the tweet and several others by Mr. Roman under its Civic Integrity Policy.
A separate analysis by Zignal showed that Pennsylvania was the subject of more likely voting misinformation than other states on Tuesday, too. Of around 15,000 voting misinformation mentions from midnight to 7 p.m., 3,449 were tied to Pennsylvania, which was followed by Michigan, Florida, Washington and Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes, is one of the largest battleground states.