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‘Doug Mastriano, Jenna Ellis, and Breitbart Touted a Fake Polling Firm Created by a High School Student’

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"Doug Mastriano, Jenna Ellis, and Breitbart touted a fake polling firm created by a high school student" in August 2022.

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On August 25 2022, a popular screenshot of a tweet on Imgur claimed that right-wing entities fell for and promoted a “poll” on Twitter — without checking to determine whether it was credible:

In August 2022, Doug Mastriano, a 2020 election deniar, was running as governor of Pennsylvania on the Republican ticket. Jenna Ellis was a legal advisor to former U.S. President Donald Trump, and Breitbart was an extreme far-right website.

In the tweet above, Media Matters for America’s Eric Hananoki replied with links demonstrating that both Mastriano and Ellis shared screenshots of, but not links to, a tweet from the unverified account @CarletonPolling on August 20 2022. Neither misleading post had been deleted as of August 25 2022.

Alongside Ellis’ screenshot, she wrote:

Don’t believe the media telling you Mastriano can’t win!! GET OUT AND VOTE IN PERSON!! 🙏

As of August 25 2022, the Twitter account @CarletonPolling was intact. However, “(PARODY)” had been added to the name of the profile, clarifying the nature of the account.

Hananoki also tweeted a link to a paywalled August 25 2022 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, confirming that @CarletonPolling was a very new account created by a high school student. The unnamed individual behind @CarletonPolling explained that their “hypothesis” had to do with Republican candidates and sketchy poll-related claims:

Clout understands why State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, touted on social media the results of a new “poll” that for the first time showed him with a narrow lead over the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

What we don’t get: Why did Mastriano and campaign advisor Jenna Ellis leave up those social media posts for five days — as it soon became clear it was a hoax and the “pollster” had pranked him?

The “pollster” — who would only identify himself as “a high school student from southwestern Connecticut who likes politics” — told Clout in a Twitter message exchange that he created the Twitter account Carleton Polling this month [August 2022] to test a theory about a “double standard” for polling and political parties.

[…]

“The Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania literally retweeted a joke poll from some high schooler without questioning anything,’ the student said in a follow-up email to Clout. “I’ll admit, I expected some random Twitter accounts to share it, but not Doug Mastriano himself.”

The @CarletonPolling Twitter account was created in August 2022. Its bio read:

“The gold standard of American polling.” The greatest pollster delivering the best and most reliable data to a community desperately in need of brilliance.

In addition to adding “(PARODY)” to the account’s name, @CarletonPolling also tweeted:

The account also retweeted a tweet from Kimberly Guilfoyle that contained a link to the Breitbart article:

An editor’s note at the bottom of the Breitbart.com item seemed to acknowledge the @CarletonPolling reference:

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to focus only on established pollsters.

An August 25 2022 Imgur post suggested that Doug Mastriano, Jenna Ellis, and Breitbart all promoted phony poll results shared by a very new Twitter account, @CarletonPolling. Mastriano and Ellis both shared screenshots (not links) of @CarletonPolling tweets to Facebook, and neither removed the content as of August 25 2022. Breitbart acknowledged the reference in a Facebook post and an editor’s note.