The trend of increasing content classified as High-Risk Hate Speech has persisted throughout the week of October 22 – October 28. Across all states, the rate of High-Risk Hate Speech was 45.2% higher than the rate seen during October 5 – October 21. Notably, this increase follows a 95% surge that occurred when comparing October 5 – October 21 with the late summer and early fall (August 22 – October 4). 


High-Risk Hate Speech Snapshot

The most recent spike driving this increase in High-Risk Hate Speech occurred between October 23 – October 25. This seems to coincide with the news leading up to Adidas terminating its partnership with Kanye West (now legally known as Ye) on the 25th. A short clip of West taunting Adidas emerged across social media networks and calls for Adidas to drop West preceded this news.

The increase in High-Risk Hate Speech rates in states with close Senate or Governor races was at parity with the rate seen in all other states. The rate for both subsets between October 22 – October 28 when compared with October 5 – October 21 was 45%.

High-Risk Hate Speech Rates (States with Close Statewide Elections vs. All Other States)

Key Takeaways

Although the rate of High-Risk Hate Speech content remained even across states with and without close midterm races, urban and rural areas saw vast differences. 

When analyzing the rate of High-Risk Hate Speech among urban and rural subgroups, the previous disparity persisted. Although the rate of increase across these two subgroups was similar, with urban areas seeing a 45% increase and rural areas seeing a 44% increase, the actual rate of High-Risk Hate Speech is 85% higher in urban areas when compared with rural areas. 

High-Risk Hate Speech Rates (Urban Areas vs. Rural Areas)


Topics Surrounding the Midterm Elections – and Those Prevalent Across Inflammatory Politics and News

As DV continues tracking the top midterm voting issues (per Pew Research), abortion remains the most prevalent issue occurring on DV-tracked midterm election content from October 22 – October 28. Pages discussing abortion, moreover, increased week-over-week by 20% (42% vs. 51%). The economy and violent crime ranked second and third, respectively.

Energy policy ranked fourth on DV’s list, at 16% (compared with 9% the week prior). 

When it came to Inflammatory Politics and News across DV-sampled pages, however, energy policy became the most prevalent topic – followed by violent crime. This marks the first time in four weeks that violent crime was not the most prevalent topic within Inflammatory Politics and News pages.

Supreme court appointments continued to appear frequently among Inflammatory Politics and News pages, ranking fourth this past week at 5.49%and narrowly surpassing abortion at 5.25%. 

Top 5 States Seeing the Highest Rates of Hate Speech and Inflammatory Politics and News

The latest geographic ranking of High-Risk Hate Speech and Inflammatory Politics and News by rate during the week of October 22 – October 28 shows Mississippi and Wyoming with the most in each category respectively, which is a continuation of the patterns DV observed during October 5 – October 21. 

  • Top 5 High-Risk Hate Speech States:
    • Mississippi 
    • Louisiana
    • Georgia
    • Delaware
    • Alabama
  • Top 5 Inflammatory Politics and News (IPN) States:
    • Wyoming 
    • Ohio
    • Oklahoma
    • Arkansas
    • West Virginia


What to Know As the Midterms Draw Closer

The continued rise in content in the High-Risk Hate Speech category suggests how volatile the current news cycle is. The DV Election Task Force is monitoring the situation in real time. If you have questions about brand safety and suitability as it pertains to the election news cycle, please reach out to



DV analyzes billions of impressions a day spanning websites, mobile apps, message boards and blogs to help keep brands safe from appearing alongside content they deem unsafe or unsuitable. Publishers promoting specious or racially biased/motivated claims are classified into DV’s Inflammatory Politics and News and Hate Speech categories. 

DV’s ongoing analysis of category traffic rates associated with High-Risk Hate Speech began on August 1 and compares states with close Senate and Gubernatorial races to those without any close races. Between August 1 and August 22, the average rate of High-Risk Hate Speech was the same for both subsets of states. As the midterm election cycle went into full swing, we observed that the average rate of High-Risk Hate Speech increased markedly.


How DV Defines Close Races, Rural and Urban Areas and Top Voting Issues

Close Races: DV’s list of close races is composed of “battleground” races identified by the nonprofit and nonpartisan online political encyclopedia Ballotpedia.


Rural and Urban Areas: The subgroups we designated as “urban” and “rural & small town” were derived using the rural-urban commuting area code (RUCA) classifications from the US census, listed as: metropolitan, micropolitan, small town and rural. Any areas designated metropolitan and micropolitan were grouped as “urban” in our analysis, while the remaining areas were grouped as “rural & small town.”


Tracking Topics Among Election-Related and Inflammatory Politics and News Web Pages

The DV ontology team uses machine learning to analyze web page content and identify topics being discussed. This capability allowed DV’s task force to track the frequency and prevalence of specific topics being mentioned over time.


Beginning in mid-September, the ontology team identified pages where midterm elections were mentioned and tracked the percentage of pages where the top 10 midterm voting issues appeared (i.e. % of total sample). The top 10 voting issues we tracked (per Pew Research) are listed here alphabetically:

  • Abortion
  • Economy
  • Education
  • Energy Policy
  • Gun Policy
  • Health Care
  • Immigration
  • Supreme Court Appointments
  • Violent Crime
  • Voting Policy


Beginning the week of September 24 – September 30, DV began analyzing the percentage of pages that mentioned these topics and were also categorized as Inflammatory Politics and News.


Glossary of Terms

Category Traffic Rates: Category traffic rates are defined as the percentage of all DV monitored ad calls that were adjacent to content classified within a specific category. This serves as a proxy for overall traffic trends.


Hate Speech/Hate Speech & Cyberbullying (overall category definition): These terms may be used interchangeably and refer to content that is related to biased, derogatory, or offensive actions towards any individuals or groups. Content that may incite violence against individuals or groups within a protected class is also within the category.

  • Please note, the overall category is not limited to instances of harmful language or behavior; it also includes content about such language or behavior, such as news coverage about a hate crime or cyberbullying, as well as content about groups that are associated with such activities.


High-Risk Hate Speech/Hate Speech & Cyberbullying (High Risk): These terms may be used interchangeably and refer to content that includes hate speech or derogatory terms in a demeaning, harmful manner; discussion of hate crimes, hate groups, hate speech, and cyberbullying in user-generated and/or unmoderated content; content that promotes or glorifies hate groups; content that provides information on how to commit cyberbullying or hate crimes; content that is related to biased, derogatory or offensive actions towards any individuals or groups; content that may incite violence against individuals or groups within a protected class is also within the category.


Inflammatory Politics and News: News or political content associated with or exhibiting inflammatory points of view; potentially fake, unreliable or unsubstantiated information; significant political intolerance, hateful or threatening rhetoric; or other significantly controversial elements.


Previous Election Coverage

DV Election Task Force: Weekly Snapshot