To be able to push these hashtags so effectively using the astroturf technique, one must rely on a very active, dense Twitter community. The Trump campaign assured this by building it into their social media strategy. For instance, just before and during the debate, all but three of the top 15 most active Twitter accounts were relays for the Trump campaign.
Here are more figures to demonstrate how densely active the Trump campaign was on Twitter:
By coupling the use of both techniques on Twitter, the Trump campaign left it to their online network to finish the job: all active accounts (voters, commentators, etc.) retweeted each other, spreading hashtags quickly to communities that spread them further, and a flash mobilization around a simple message turned into a mass movement to overturn poll results. In effect, the online polls hijacked by the Trump campaign ended up feeding the belief that Trump actually won. With this strategy, the hashtag #TrumpWon appeared in Twitter’s Trending Topics list and forced mainstream media to talk about it.
After astroturfing did the trick, Trump only needed to tweet a screenshot of all polls in his favor with the hashtag #TrumpWon to seal the bandwagon effect, and the #debatenight game was over.
Questions for the next debate: How will Clinton’s campaign retaliate online, and will Trump’s campaign (need to) use the same tricks?