Russia Scandal Looks Different Outside of Washington

Russia Scandal Looks Different Outside of Washington, by Jason Willick.

Elite conservative opinion has shifted markedly. Andrew McCarthy, the former prosecutor who had consistently and compellingly defended the Trump administration against Russia allegations, wrote a powerful piece in National Review raising the prospect of impeachment after it surfaced that high level Trump staff had met with a Russian lawyer and lied about it. The Federalist, which had consistently highlighted and mocked Russia hysteria, ran a piece calling the meeting “shady as hell.” Ross Douthat, a Russia conspiracy skeptic, wrote in the New York Times that he could no longer give the President the benefit of the doubt. Outside of avowed Trump loyalists, the anti-anti Trump arguments on journalist Twitter have been few and far between. It would be hard to find a Republican in Washington who actually thinks that Trump Jr.’s contact with Russians is no big deal. Even the Breitbart staff was shocked.

And yet despite this unmistakable, watershed shift, Republican voters appear to be (mostly) unmoved. This is a reminder of how marginal D.C. media is when it comes to shaping the opinion of the mass of actual conservatives in the heartland — a lesson learned during the primary election, but worth keeping in mind during this tumultuous time as well.

The D.C. media environment is a simply a different world from what most conservative voters are exposed to. …

Voters as a whole aren’t nearly as concerned with the Russia issue as those of us in Washington might think. Just 12 percent of Americans — 20 percent of Democrats, 12 percent of Independents, and 2 percent of Republicans — ate Trump’s relationship with Russia among the top two issues they are concerned about. The Russia issue is dwarfed by healthcare, the economy, and immigration. Meanwhile, for virtually every person who does politics for a living in Washington, Democrat or Republican, Russia is number one.