Internet Trolls Flooded Online Polls to Show That Trump Won the First Debate

Donald Trump First Presidential Debate
Getty Images

Last night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was forecasted to be a rhetorical slugfest. But judging by the word salads advanced by Trump, Clinton marched to victory based on most analysis. Internet polls, however, didn't quite agree.

Immediately following the debate, an instant poll from CNN/ORC showed Clinton handing Trump a decisive loss, beating him by 35%. Tuesday morning, however, told a different story: Twitter was abuzz with memes claiming #TrumpWon, and a slew of prominent post-debate polls show the sniffling billionaire winning handedly.

How then, is this actually happening? According to the Daily Dot, Reddit and 4Chan users bombarded post-debate polls in a coordinated effort to portray Trump as the winner. If you follow Trump on Twitter, you’re aware that a stampede of trolls are there, salivating at his every (sad!) remark. Reddit is its own haven for Trumpkins too, as the /r/The_Donald thread maintains about 200,000 subscribers. The largest Clinton subreddit, on the other hand, maintains only about 28,000.

Last night at about midnight EST, a Polls Compilation Megathread sprang up on /r/The_Donald, obviously with the intent of driving Trump supporters to the online polls en masse. The effects are obvious -- reflected in Twitter polls that see Trump eeking out a narrow win and also dominating the debate by considerable percentages. The manipulated polls seem to asses presidential temperament by how many times one interrupts an opponent.

As The Daily Dot points out, online polls -- specifically those of a non-scientific variety -- are not to be trusted. They’re easily manipulated, and any minor security measure can be breached by simply opening a new window in your browser, creating multiple accounts, deleting your cookies, and so on and so forth.

It’s a sad reality, but in an election season this saturated with leaks and online schadenfreude, it’s anything but unexpected.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster