With 2024 in sight, Trump is doubling down on election misinformation
Banned from Twitter and Facebook after the attack by his supporters on the Capitol in Washington in January 2021, Donald Trump has been back since April on his own platform, Truth Social, where he multiplies the references to conspiracy theories concerning the vote in the approaching the US midterm elections.
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Out of 1,200 publications by the ex-president on his social network in 58 days, around 100 question the integrity of the November 8 elections, according to an AFP count.
“Here we go again!” he wrote on Nov. 1, sharing a misleading article about mail-in voting in Pennsylvania, a key state where a senator seat at stake on Tuesday could decide the fate of the majority in the Senate, the upper house of Congress.
« Rigged election! », Added the one who has still not recognized his November 2020 defeat against Joe Biden and aims to run again in 2024.
This strategy echoes the one he implemented in 2020, when he hammered that postal voting was subject to widespread fraud, before dozens of courts denied these allegations.
But spreading such misinformation could weaken Americans’ confidence in the electoral process as voters return to the polls, experts warn.
“If leaders tell their supporters that elections are unreliable, their supporters believe them,” Russell Muirhead, professor of political science at Dartmouth College, told AFP.
« Trump’s assertion that the election would be flawed erodes American democracy, » he added.
« Poison »
The former Republican president posts on Truth Social up to several dozen times a day. Over the past two months, he has attacked Joe Biden and Democrats, criticized the investigations against him, and touted his own campaign rallies and accomplishments.
Donald Trump also praises the Republicans who take up his unfounded allegations of a stolen election. Like Kari Lake, a candidate for governor in Arizona who indicated that she might not accept the result of her own election if she lost, despite assurances given to this effect on Sunday by the leader of the conservative party. , Ronna McDaniel, on CNN.
And the real estate magnate has approached the QAnon conspiratorial movement.
Although his audience on Truth Social is relatively small – 4.5 million followers compared to 88 million previously on Twitter – experts warn that the misinformation he spreads is spreading on the internet.
« When Trump puts poison in the water, the whole lake is contaminated, » said Russell Muirhead.
Contacted by AFP, neither Donald Trump’s team nor his « Save America » organization responded.
« Disproportionate influence »
The former president gave visibility to hundreds of pro-Trump articles, polls and memes, one of which, for example, referred to Joe Biden as a “pedophile Hitler”.
“Trump still has outsized influence over the Republican Party and the broader right-wing media ecosystem, and any allegations he makes are amplified,” said Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Statistics, Democracy and the politics of George Washington University.
In October, he notably shared posts from Melody Jennings, founder of a group organizing the surveillance of advance polling places in Arizona to detect an alleged fraud.
One of the posts included a photo of a voter dropping off, as he later explained in a complaint, his ballot and that of his wife who remained in the car.
The incident recalled one of Donald Trump’s false allegations in 2020 about election workers in Georgia accused of counting entire ‘suitcases’ of fraudulent ballots, though investigations found nothing wrong. illegal took place.
But the damage was done: two of the election workers received death threats and one had to leave her home for two months at the request of the FBI.
« Do you know what it’s like to be targeted by the President of the United States? » Asked the latter, Ruby Freeman, during a hearing before a parliamentary inquiry.
New Twitter owner Elon Musk has opened the door for Donald Trump to return to the social network, but not before Tuesday’s election.