The Hill

The Election on Social Media: A Country in Turmoil

2020 Election Biden and Trump
The polarized 2020 election has ratcheted up tension across the country AFP / Olivier DOULIERY

The age of social media has led to a democratization of political discussion, with everyone from political pundits to celebrities to the average Joe broadcasting opinions about Election 2020 on social media.

We’ve closely followed the discourse to identify common topics, and we’ve embedded tweets in this article as examples of what kind of posts are being made. The resulting picture is one of uncertainty, strong feelings and dueling narratives, as the future of the United States and its democratic process takes shape.

Please note: The embedded tweets are presented as-is to provide a view of real opinions on social media. Their contents should not be taken as fact, and they do not represent the views of the author or of Medical Daily.

Emotional whiplash

This year’s election has been a catalyst for many intense emotions, but satisfaction hasn’t been a common one. Even when a user’s preferred candidate is winning, the situation is simply too tense and too fast-moving. No one knows what’s coming next. The result is an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows, as people struggle to cope with shifting vote tallies and outcomes that defy their expectations.

Absolutely where I am. I expected to not know the results now. I expected the final results to be close. Yet, I didn't real stop to think what close election results fundamentally mean, and that part blindsided me hard

— _Dan Tagliarina_ (@ProfTags) November 4, 2020

While many people have gone all-in on following the election cycle, others are seeking ways to pass the time until the final results arrive. Common pastimes include watching movies or stepping away from the screen to cook or work on crafts.

And, of course, there are the memes. Breaking tension with humor and pop culture references is the internet’s reflexive response to … well, pretty much anything. That’s one mold the election definitely hasn’t broken.

Me looking at the news cycle over the next 48 to 72 hours. pic.twitter.com/Nldcc4PE3H

— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) November 2, 2020

 

What happened at the polls?

Months of political polling predicted a landslide win for Joe Biden. The reality has been quite different, with many state races running extremely close and often ending within a couple percentage points.

I don't know about that, but people obviously just lied to them about voting intentions this time. And their polls are relied on *way* too much by the media, given far too much importance. Time to stop giving them so much airtime.

— mars_stu (@mars_stu) November 4, 2020

Two of my family members who were Trump supporters in 2016 and in 2020 purposely lied to pollsters when contacted. And I know folks/friends who kept their support for Trump hidden. How do polls account for secret Trump voters?

— karen foshay (@karenfoshay) November 4, 2020

Anecdotal reports suggest that Trump supporters intentionally lied both to avoid public shaming and to mislead the media. Like so much in this election, though, that phenomenon isn’t a settled fact. The Washington Post disputes the notion that Republicans lied to pollsters en masse, suggesting instead that different states had different degrees of accuracy. Many social media users and analysts counter that later polls were largely correct, so the explanation isn’t so much lies, as it is a shift in poll answers over time.

This entire article is based on nonsense. Trump is poised to lose by about 5% in the popular vote, which is what many of the last polls said (see link below). No evidence that anyone lied to pollsters https://t.co/Cs0q0vXA9Y

— YOU'RE FIRED!!! (@cincinnato) November 4, 2020

 

The war on truth

 

“Fake news” has been with us since the 2016 election, but false and misleading information still dominate election conversations. Conspiracies like QAnon have gained a lot of traction, and distrust of the political establishment and news media has spun into narratives about disinformation campaigns and allegations of outright fraud by a ruling elite.

The ruling class just lied to the nation for a year about the polls and stats and percentages. They've lied about Trump for four years. So, no, we aren't going to accept the fact that now we need to trust corrupt Democratic blue city political machines to be honest re the vote.

— Matthew J. Peterson (@docMJP) November 4, 2020

 

Fraud and suppression

The twin specters of ballot fraud and voter suppression have haunted the 2020 election from the beginning, and they fuel some of the most heated dialogue now.

 

Y’all hate red states so much but refuse to acknowledge the gerrymandering and voter suppression that keeps us red. Democratic voters out here aren’t stupid or backwoods. We’re in the trenches, we’re your comrades. Don’t ignore the work. https://t.co/mEo8zGWyng

— Leah Johnson (@byleahjohnson) November 4, 2020

Among conservative circles, the idea that mail-in voting is a cover for fraud has become widespread. A handful of stories suggest that some degree of misconduct may be occurring, but there haven’t yet been large-scale investigations or enough widespread examples to prove a trend.

#Election2020 still, there'd be at least 1 vote in 100k belonging to Trump or Independent ,,,it's crazy to think every mail in vote is for Biden since there are disabled Republicans and Independents out there. The dems don't even try to hide their cheating anymore

— Loretta C (@RettaL222) November 4, 2020

 

Nevada is releasing results early tonight. They’re going to call for Biden because then AP and FNC can call the whole election for Biden (based on their premature call of AZ). This is the coup. Unacceptable.

— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) November 4, 2020

On the opposite side, many Democrats firmly believe the US Postal Service has been sabotaged to disqualify mail-in votes and skew the results of the election. Louis DeJoy is the USPS postmaster general.

They knew exactly what they were doing. DeJoy was a stooge appointed to destroy the mail-in vote. They didn't hide what they were doing and regardless of having been ordered to stop by the courts, Trump & DeJoy succeeded in holding back mail-in ballots. https://t.co/GkRhLfbLBY

— The Muck Rake (@soMUCHmuck) November 4, 2020

Down for the count

Mail-in voting has taken on an important role, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. How and when ballots should be counted has been especially contentious.

How come every time they count Mail-In ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020

Arguments and protests pepper social media sites and have even spilled over into the streets.

Again: the GOP created this delay and they’re now turning around and claiming there is something suspicious about the fact that it’s taking longer to count votes. https://t.co/ou3MEo8JcI

— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) November 4, 2020

#BREAKING: Large, animated crush of “stop the count” protestors trying to push their way into TCF hall in #Detroit where ballots are being counted.

They’re being blocked by guards at the door.

Pizza boxes are pushed against the window to obstruct view. It’s tense. @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/zFhzd88skX

— Steve Patterson (@PattersonNBC) November 4, 2020

The take home

The chaotic discussion surrounding the election won't end soon. Ballot counting continues, and tension is going to remain high for days, if not weeks, to come. Take a look at our election-day stress tips to help manage your mental state, as the country awaits final results with nothing that resembles patience.

Sean Marsala is a health writer based in Philadelphia, Pa. Passionate about technology, he can usually be found reading, browsing the internet and exploring virtual worlds.

 

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