Russia Worked the GOP Primaries Too

Will there be more of this?

At a panel event at the Heritage Foundation, former Ted Cruz presidential campaign spokesman Ron Nehring said that during the primaries he got a very different response when he criticized Donald Trump than any other candidate. The pattern he noted was about what you’d expect: When he was critical of Donald Trump he was inundated with hostile responses on Twitter and from accounts which followed a particular pattern.

From Roll Call

Nehring said when he looked closely at those accounts, they fit into similar parameters: no personally identifiable profile picture, no location listed, with certain buzzwords in the profile description.

We tend to focus on the general election for a number of reasons. First of all, that’s where the most extreme interference seems to have occurred. That’s where the theft and later publication of digital documents happened. It seems to be where the circulation of agitprop was most intense – the stuff on Sputnik and RT, and the seemingly ad campaigns on social networks. It was after all the most consequential. It helped make Trump President.

But there’s an additional reason which shouldn’t matter but obviously does. In the general election, there’s a clear and aggrieved wronged party: Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party, Democratic voters, etc. On the Republican side, every primary challenger is at least nominally a Trump supporter now. So there’s no obvious interest to press the point. At a minimum, it’s awkward.

But to an equal degree, the whole subject does not seem to have been looked at that closely. But some have looked at it. Here’s one write up by Ryan Goodman at the JustSecurity website. For now, I’ll just say, I suspect there’s substantially more here than people might expect. Why wouldn’t there be? Trump was clearly a much longer shot early in the primaries than he was in the general. But if you’re for Trump, you needed him to win the primaries to get to the general. Let’s have more eyes on this.