Late on Saturday, the Des Moines Register and CNN decided not to release their poll of Monday’s Iowa caucuses, triggering supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and entrepreneur Andrew Yang to start a trend on Twitter theorizing that the reason it was canceled was so people would not know how successful their candidates were.
That rumor was false. As NBC News reports, the poll’s publication was canceled after a supporter of Pete Buttigieg claimed that Buttigieg’s name was left off a list of candidates. The supporter alerted the Buttigieg campaign, which in turn alerted Ann Selzer, who was conducting the poll. Selzer, the Register and CNN jointly decided that they were unsure as to whether results had been compromised and thus canceled the poll’s publication.
Carol Hunter, the Register’s executive editor, told NBC News, “Nothing is more important to the Register and its polling partners than the integrity of the Iowa Poll. Therefore, the partners made the difficult decision to not to move forward with releasing the Iowa Poll.” She added, “The Register has published the Iowa Poll for 76 years, and it is considered the gold standard in political polling. Selzer & Co., which conducts the poll, is recognized for its excellence in polling. It is imperative whenever an Iowa Poll is released that there is confidence that the data accurately reflects Iowans’ opinions.”
NBC News noted, “Sanders and Yang supporters flooded the hashtag, “#ReleaseThePoll,” which was one of the top trends on Saturday night. Data collected by the open-source Twitter analytics tool Hoaxy showed that the primary drivers of the hashtag were Sanders fans alleging conspiracy theories about the poll, followed by Yang fans pushing one of their own.”
NBC News added, “The engagement with early tweets using #ReleaseThePoll was enough to catapult the hashtag into Twitter’s trending topics section — and onto the screens of more American Twitter users. The trending topic was pushed even further up the trending topics leaderboard by supporters of Yang, who hopped onto the hashtag 45 minutes later with an identical conspiracy theory, claiming with no evidence that the poll was pulled because it showed Yang jumping up several points.”
Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse, commented, “Conspiracy theorists are looking for unusual events such as this. They have a history of happening a certain way. An unusual media event already primes the public because it’s unusual … Once a conspiracy theory launches, alternative conspiracy theories could quickly surface to counter them. The result is a toxic disinformation soup.”
As The Daily Wire reported last week:
The Biden campaign, concerned about the nasty online attacks on their candidate by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, is urging their own supporters to get online and defend Biden from the attacks. Bloomberg reports that the Biden campaign told supporters that Sanders people were “getting ugly” and it had to “step up its game.” Bloomberg notes, “The message was confirmed by campaign national press secretary TJ Ducklo.”
Bloomberg notes, “Sanders’ supporters are markedly more aggressive than those of any other campaign, going to Twitter and Facebook to enthusiastically defend the Vermont senator and sometimes attack the supporters of other candidates.”