Russians Using Cartoons to Influence Midterms

Graphika, a network analysis firm, has released a report on foreign actors, specifically Russian,
trying to influence the United States midterm elections that includes the use of political cartoons.

From the Graphika report:

Key Findings

  • Suspected Russian actors are engaged in a renewed effort to target far-right audiences in the U.S. with politically divisive messaging ahead of the November midterm elections. 
  • This includes direct attempts to undermine support for Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, and Ohio. Other narratives promoted by the network comprise inflammatory messaging about sensitive cultural and political issues, as well as criticism of President Joe Biden.
  • These narratives are primarily advanced via a series of political cartoons, which we assess were likely created by the actors and are almost certainly intended to go viral. Similar cartoons disseminated by this campaign have previously achieved significant levels of engagement from authentic online communities.


Based on behavioral and content indicators, we have previously attributed this activity with medium confidence to the actors behind the Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens (NAEBC), a fake right-wing news outlet that targeted U.S. audiences ahead of the 2020 presidential election. NAEBC has been attributed by Meta to individuals associated with past activity of Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), an assessment reportedly shared by U.S. law enforcement.

While key assets in the network began posting again in August-September this year, one notable change in TTPs at this time was the absence of distinctive political cartoons, which we assess are likely original content created by the actors. These cartoons formed a mainstay of the campaign’s previous activities, and typically bore the artist signature “Schmitz.” It is not clear if Schmitz is a real artist whose work has been reappropriated or a fictitious persona.

Since Oct. 29, however, a network asset on has shared six new Schmitz cartoons in rapid succession. These cartoons appear to be an attempt to directly target U.S. online political discourse ahead of the November midterms. All six promote narratives that criticize and disparage Democratic candidates in tight electoral races, specifically Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Tim Ryan in Ohio, Kathy Hochul in New York, and John Fetterman in Pennsylvania.