Far-right floods the internet with calls for Biden’s ouster
Quantifying the fringe campaign that has now enlisted over three dozen members of Congress
It’s no doubt been a difficult two weeks for the Biden administration as they work round-the-clock to evacuate remaining Americans and allies from Afghanistan. It’s been a mess, and not one solely of their own making. As they continue to move forward and remain laser-focused on the task at hand, online far-right trolls have been coordinating an attempt to throw them off course, score political points, and weaken our democracy in the process. In this week’s FWIW, we’ll share data on how Republican calls for President Biden’s removal are spreading online.
By the numbers:
For starters, here are the top 10 political ad spenders on Facebook and Instagram last week:
A sign of the times: outside of Facebook itself, the top political ad spender on Facebook last week was the International Rescue Committee. IRC has spent nearly $500,000 on Facebook ads in the past two weeks on “URGENT” and “CRISIS ALERT” fundraising ads highlighting the plight of Afghan refugees.
Last week, we highlighted the scarcity of political ads mentioning the Afghan crisis, and this week that hasn’t changed much. Despite Republican politicians’ high-pitched criticism of Biden on the issue (much more on that below), they’ve yet to put serious digital ad dollars behind it. We should also note that despite POLITICO/Morning Consult’s *insanely worded* polling question this week, many Americans still support Afghan withdrawal, no matter what.
… and here are the top political ad spenders on Google & Youtube last week:
Turning back our attention to domestic issues, a group of House Dems dubbed “The Unbreakable Nine” briefly captured the attention of DC this week, as they attempted to force a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would have disrupted Democratic leadership’s two-track strategy. In the grand scheme of things, this spat will soon be forgotten, but that hasn’t stopped No Labels from running this bizarre video across digital and streaming platforms:
Terry McAuliffe continued to be a top spender on Facebook advertising last week. For more data and insights on the Virginia elections, we’d highly encourage you to check out yesterday’s issue of FWIW Virginia (and subscribe)!
...and California Gov. Gavin Newsom was once again the top spender nationwide on Google ads last week, as Californians begin mailing their ballots in the tightening September 14th recall election. On Monday, we published an extensive look at digital advertising and online engagement data in that race, and you can read more here.
Inside the anti-democratic calls for Biden’s ouster
It’s no doubt been a difficult two weeks for the Biden administration as they work round-the-clock to evacuate remaining Americans and allies from Afghanistan. It’s been a mess, and not one solely of their own making. As they continue to move forward and remain laser-focused on the task at hand, familiar suspects like Ben Shapiro, Breitbart, and the Daily Caller have been attempting to throw them off course, score political points, and weaken our democracy in the process with bogus calls for impeachment or removal.
It all began with the troll-in-chief, former President Donald Tr*mp, rearing his ugly head on August 16th to bizarrely call for President Biden’s resignation. Considering the former president says stupid things all the time, many brushed off his comments as typical bluster. But, perhaps predictably so, over the past week at least 32 members of the House of Representatives and 4 sitting U.S. Senators have followed suit in making their anti-democratic intentions known by calling for the President to either be impeached, resign, or removed from office.
Here’s our unofficial count:
Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Greg Steube (R-FL), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Tom Rice (R-SC), Jody Hice (R-GA), Roger Williams (R-TX), Michael Cloud (R-TX), Mark Green (R-TN), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Greg Murphy (R-NC), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Brian Babin (R-TX), Chip Roy (R-TX), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Andy Harris (R-MD), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Barry Moore (R-AL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA)
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC)
Look - these are not serious people. The four Senators that have called for impeachment or removal almost certainly all have 2024 Presidential aspirations. The House members are many of the same folks who refused to certify the electoral college results. But by our analysis, it is unprecedented for so many members of Congress to so flippantly call for a President’s removal of office, especially in the middle of a foreign policy crisis - welcome to the new normal.
These members’ actions this week, and their continued presence in our highest legislative body, does not bode well for the future of our democracy - especially if Republicans retake the House of Representatives in 2022.
The narrative that Biden should resign, be impeached, or be removed from office first came into focus on the right-wing internet weeks ago. The front pages of the Daily Caller, Daily Wire, Western Journal, and Breitbart have been dutifully beating that drum for the past month - and that coupled with Trump’s statement on August 16th was enough to make Google search interest spike:
On social media, calls for Biden’s removal have spread like wildfire by just a handful of bad actors: fringe congressional candidates Graham Allen and Teddy Daniels, along with the usual suspects of Dan Bongino, Ben Shapiro, and Nick Adams.
On Facebook, posts about Biden impeachment or removal have received 11.25 million interactions (reactions, comments, shares) since August 15th. By comparison, in that same time period, posts mentioning “infrastructure” received around 5.2 million interactions. 😐
We also take Twitter trends with a grain of salt as they can be easily influenced by coordinated campaigns and foreign actors, but we’ll note that #BidenMustResign, #ImpeachBidenHarrisNow, #PresidentHarris, and #PresidentPelosi were all trending yesterday as Biden took to the podium to address the nation.
We’re bringing all of this to your attention because while you may not see this conversation in your own social feeds, these unserious calls for President Biden’s removal are very seriously beginning to reach millions of Americans.
In addition to right-wing media outlets running with the story, local papers and TV stations across the country are reporting on these calls for Biden to resign, driving the narrative into the mainstream. Democrats (and people interested in preserving democracy in general) should continue to monitor these trends, and seek to counter them when possible.