A new study could establish the existence of a correlation between Donald Trump supporters and white supremacists. At least on social media.
The study, conducted by Demographics Pro, a social media research company, looked at a random sample of 10,000 Trump supporters on Twitter. They were identified as backer of Trump based on hashtags used in their tweets. Then, researchers wanted to see if any of them are following white supremacists’s twitter accounts by looking at list of 10 popular Twitter accounts, including former KKK leader David Duke, Neo-Nazi activist Jason Bergkamp (who tweeted, for example, a picture of a squinting white man with the caption: “when you spot a Jew and left your gas tank at home.”) Others on the list included Ann Kelly from the White Genocide Project and many “alt-right” accounts.
The results showed a whopping 35.5% of pro-Trump Twitter users following one or more white nationalists. When a similar test was conducted with Twitters users identified as Hillary Clinton supports, no such correlation was found. Only 16 of the 10,000 Clinton supporters sampled had been following white supremacists on Twitter.
The study does not offer a scientific measure of racist sentiments among Trump supporters, nor is it clear that those Trump backers who follow white supremacist Twitter accounts necessarily identify with their views, but it does offer yet another possible explanation to the increase of social media racist discourse during this election season.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.