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Georgia has provided further proof if any were needed that the Russiagate scandal is failing to gain traction with the US public.
Over the last few two months a frenzied campaign has been underway in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, which the Democrats have been hoping to win in the expectation that the US public is turning against President Trump and the Republicans.
There were reasons why the Democrats had particularly high hopes of this district. It is a well off, well-educated suburban district with a demographic profile expected to favour the Democrats.
Instead, after the most expensive Congressional contest in US history, the Republican candidate Karen Handel saw off the Democrats’ Jeff Ossoff, who with 48% of the vote failed to improve on the vote won in the district by Hillary Clinton in November. If this was intended as a referendum on Russiagate and on President Trump, then he won and the Democrats lost.
The Democrats’ defeat in Georgia in fact follows a pattern of defeats. This is their fourth Congressional defeat in a row as they have failed to capture any of the four Republican held Congressional seats vacated by President Trump’s cabinet appointees. They have lost in Montana, South Carolina, Kansas and now Georgia, with Georgia a race they were widely expected to win. This notwithstanding a campaign against the sitting President – now being threatened by the Democrats with impeachment for obstruction of justice – unequalled to any in US history so soon after his inauguration.
The reason for this failure is in fact not difficult to see. Russiagate is and always has been an elite obsession. Here is what I wrote about it on 30th July 2016, during the scandal’s very earliest manifestations, whilst the Presidential election was still some months away
The important thing however is that the British Remain campaign’s attempt to use Putin as a scarecrow to frighten British voters into voting Remain was a total failure. There is no evidence it persuaded a single British voter to change their vote.
I predict the same will be true in the US election. Though Britain and the US are very different societies, I think the liberal elite in both countries is making the same mistake: they think non-elite people (ie. the great mass of voters) are as obsessed by Putin as they are.I doubt this is the case. I think most British and US voters broadly accept the elite’s claims about Putin: that he is corrupt, ruthless and authoritarian. However my impression is that this goes hand in hand with a grudging though cynical respect for him as a strong leader who is not to be messed with. More to the point I don’t think they think much about him or consider him or Russia dangerous. On the contrary they see jihadi terrorism – which unlike Russia has actually carried out terrorist attacks on US and EU soil – as the enemy, and are open to the idea floated by Putin and Trump of the US and Russia joining forces to fight this common enemy. Issues like Ukraine and the Baltic States by contrast are remote and far away and barely interest them.
As for the idea that such an extremely American figure as Donald Trump – whom US voters have come to know and form a view about over several decades – could possibly be a Russian agent, that is just too farfetched for most voters.
Unless Hillary Clinton is careful she could find that by banging on about Putin she is losing the voters’ attention. This whilst Donald Trump talks about issues voters genuinely care about such as immigration, law and order and jobs.
The results of the election proved this assessment to be entirely correct, and the result of the Congressional election in the Sixth Congressional District in Georgia show that it continues to be entirely correct now.
To be clear, it would be a very different story if the various Russiagate probes had discovered that President Trump, his campaign team or the Russians had actually done something really bad. However they have entirely failed to do so, and it is becoming increasingly clear that they never will.
Far from Russiagate giving the Democrats the silver bullet with which they are going to kill off Donald Trump, by now it ought to be obvious to the Democrats that it is simply turning the US public off, and that they long ago ceased to be interested in a story which is going nowhere.
Until the Democrats realise that and stop obsessively harping about a story which is of no interest to most Americans they will continue to lose.