President Trump and Russian President Putin at the 2018 G20 summit. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

A new study found a correlation between retweets of known Russian troll accounts during the 2016 election and Donald Trump's poll numbers.

Why it matters: The study, conducted by a team headed at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and published in the peer-reviewed University of Illinois-Chicago journal "First Monday," suggests that — despite protests to the contrary by Republicans and Trump allies — the Russian disinformation campaign was successful in influencing the 2016 election.

Caveat: Correlation does not always mean causation. If a Trump talking point encouraged a particularly viral Tweet, for example, it may have also encouraged a change in Trump's polling on its own.

  • It's also worth noting that the U.S. intelligence community has not conclusively weighed in on whether Russia's interference in 2016 had a tangible impact on the results of the election.

Details: The Tennessee-Knoxville study analyzed 770,005 tweets in English from known Russian troll accounts, as well as corresponding poll data from FiveThirtyEight's archive of multiple polling outlets.

  • Every 25,000 retweets of Russian accounts correlated to a 1% increase in Trump's poll numbers one week later.
  • Given the frequency of tweets from Russian accounts, 25,000 retweets would average around 10 retweets per tweet.
  • Retweets did not have a similar effect on Hillary Clinton's poll numbers.
  • The study also found that 91% of first retweeters of known Russian bots were non-Russian bots, "which suggests that propaganda spread into networks of real U.S. citizens."

Go deeper: U.S. is underestimating Putin's "grand strategy" for Russian dominance

Editor's note: The headline and first paragraph of this story have been updated to clarify that the study suggests a correlation between troll posts and Trump poll numbers.

Go deeper

When U.S. politicians exploit foreign disinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. political actors will keep weaponizing the impact of widespread foreign disinformation campaigns on American elections, making these operations that much more effective and attractive to Russia, China, Iran or other countries backing them.

Why it matters: Hostile powers’ disinformation campaigns aim to destabilize the U.S., and each time a domestic politician embraces them, it demonstrates that they work.

29 mins ago - Technology

Samsung debuts Note 20, new foldable smartphone

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung unveiled its crop of new mobile devices Wednesday, including two versions of the Note 20 smartphone, an updated foldable device, two tablets and a watch.

Why it matters: The new devices aim to give Samsung an early start at the second half of the year, with products aimed at parents buying fresh gear for the back-to-homeschool season.

Joe Biden will no longer travel to Milwaukee for Democratic convention

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden will no longer be traveling to Milwaukee the week of Aug. 17 to accept his nomination in person at the Democratic National Convention due to COVID-19 concerns, the DNC announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: No planned speakers will travel to Milwaukee, meaning that the convention will be entirely virtual — unlike the hybrid event that the party had previously been planning. Biden will accept the nomination from his home state of Delaware.