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There appears to be clear evidence of Russia tampering in the US election in favor of Trump, the DNC e-mail leak and propaganda bots etc, which could partially explain Trump's winning of the final election, which was definitely not predicted at the time.

However, Trump winning the Republican primaries was also a bit of a surprise. Has any evidence been presented so far that Russia was tampering in Trump's favor during the Republican primaries? If so to what degree and/or what have they been proven to have done during this period?

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    The investigation is still ongoing so one can only speculate on what actually occurred and what effect this had at this point. IMO revisit your question in a few years or decades for a final answer. – Denis de Bernardy Mar 16 '18 at 21:31
  • Comments deleted. Please don't try to answer the question in the comments. If you would like to answer, please write a real answer which adheres to our quality standards. – Philipp Mar 22 '18 at 16:52
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With the investigation, and this is why I am trying to be as neutral about it as possible, there are plenty of political interests involved that are prepared to be more partisan and less honest on the answer. There is subsantial evidence that the Russians were involved in tampering with the US election, in terms of social media, and in terms of providing dis-information about politicians, policies and campaigns.

The extent is really in question here, however without the investigation reaching a final conclusion, it is difficult to say. So far, and this is to be taken with a grain of salt, given the political disputes going on over the investigation and the conclusions, the argument is that the Russian Government, through various proxies paid for ad campaigns was $100,000. But this does not seem to explain what impact a careful application of those ads could have.

Given that the Russian Government through proxies was establishing groups on Facebook, and establishing itself through Twitter, and other forms of social media, it could easily have had a major online presence, and played upon existing insecurities and issues within US politics. From the current investigation, it is heavily implied that Russia influenced Americans, but there is no concrete evidence so far that it did more than emphasize pre-existing problems and play on them. It didn't rig election machines, but there is speculation that voter information may have been hacked.

There is the concept of dis-information, where Russia through proxies, supplies 'fake news' or false evidence to campaigns, politicians, and political groups, rather than just play on insecurities within the US political debate. It would be consistent with Russian interference in the Balkans, and European elections such as in France, for Russia to employ such methods, but really we can't read more into it without a final conclusion to the recent investigation.

The most honest answer so far, is that it had minimal impact, but that does not mean that it could not have changed the outcome of political races, or the chances of candidates. It would be a heavy stretch however to suggest, as is being implied in a partisan sense, that Hillary Clinton lost solely on this basis, or on the other side to equate there being minimal impact to it not being a serious act of interference upon the political process of the United States.

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    Please note that the question focuses explicitly on the Republican Primaries. Your answer seems to only be about Russian influence on the actual Presidential election. – Philipp Mar 22 '18 at 16:54
  • In the context of the investigation, so far the emphasis is on all campaigns, so it can't be viewed exclusively out of that context. Russian interference existed during both primaries, and the general proceeding assumption is that it employed proxy agencies, who had a clear agenda to get the most disruptive or best candidate for Russia elected, or confuse the issues. – WanderWillow Mar 22 '18 at 16:59
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    I appreciate your answer, but I was looking specifically for republican primaries information. Was russia involved in these, or did they only get involved later on? Did Russia favor trump over other primary individuals if they were involved during primaries etc. – dsollen Mar 22 '18 at 17:20
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    There is a suggestion that it began three months after announcing his candidacy, and that it targeted Jeb Bush negatively: motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/11/… *Used Mother Jones link, due to paywall. – WanderWillow Mar 22 '18 at 17:25
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    Should further note, that the original link states this as coming out of congressional committees. – WanderWillow Mar 22 '18 at 17:33
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Let's go back and review the Republican 2016 primary... going into it, the presumptive lead candidate and party choice was... Jeb Bush.

He turned out to be a washout, a bureaucrat with little charisma or appeal, and a sitting duck for Trump's 'low energy' label. Jeb did poorly in the first primary, and the next, and the next... never did get going. Just not presidential material. (arguably, neither Trump nor Clinton was presidential material, but in Jeb's case, it was painfully obvious)

From that point on, there was quite a gallery. The tea party put forth right leaning/puritan Ted Cruz. The mainstream (what little there is) had John Kasich. A wildcard policy wonk was Marco Rubio. Plus Ben Carson... and there were a few others like Carly Fiorina, fresh off running HP into the ground, and another tea partier, Rick Santorum, that never seemed to gain any support.

Plus Donald Trump, who had made a small bid in 2012 garnering a few percentage points, making what was thought to be another small bid in 2016. No one took him seriously, until he started winning primaries.

Out of all of those candidates, only one tapped into what the electorate was really concerned about... jobs for US citizens. The rest of the Republican candidates seemed to be following either the tea party line (obstruct... oops, we're in the majority now, do we obstruct ourselves?) or squabble amongst themselves over trivial issues.

Cruz became the school principal... as if we're going to elect what we tried to avoid in school. Kasich... just never seemed to gain any traction. Pity, he would have been a good centrist choice, had an admirable record of working across party lines to achieve a goal. Rubio tried to play Trump's bluster game and failed badly. Carson kept making more and more wacky statements.

The nomination went to the person who placed an emphasis on revitalizing US industry and creating more jobs, not on preaching dogma.

Unless one wants to suggest that the Russians guided Trump's primary campaign, which is unlikely as what Trump campaigned on is what he had been saying in years previous, it is safe to say that the Russians had no impact at all on the Republican nomination.

As for the Russians having any impact on the main election, take a moment out and review this NYT article that shows many of those Russian created ads. They appear to be nothing more than typical fringe group stuff that would appeal only to people whose mind was already made up. Hardly the sort of thing that would change anyone's vote.

Note that many of those Russian ads were promoting Bernie Sanders... maybe they were actually trying to help us...

  • If there was a goal tj, it wasn't to so much favor any candidate, but to confuse issues, and mess up our politics more if possible. Would the interference have changed the end outcome, doubtful. Certainly Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz weren't what Republicans were searching for - which was essentially Trump. The general frustration I'd have with this investigation is the obsession with targeting Trump, and not actually having an unbiased, honest approach to the investigation. – WanderWillow Mar 23 '18 at 13:00
  • @WanderWillow... If anything, this demonstrates how vulnerable the public has become to deception (or gullible, as the case may be). As the recent Facebook incident demonstrates, social media that has no real governance can be become a spy agency for sale. I'd wonder why Mueller isn't looking into the sums of money flowing from Russian interest to the Clintons during Hillary's SecState time, only that points to the FBI director at that time... Mueller. Ironic that he's in charge of investigating foreign interference... he certainly demonstrated a talent for ignoring it as FBI director. – tj1000 Mar 24 '18 at 19:21
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Thus far official word from the Mueller investigation is that there is no evidence to suggest any of the Russian meddling was effective at any stage of the election. This would likely include the primaries.

Keep in mind that the primary pool on the Republican side was inordinately high given the number of confirmed candidates (17 Republican Candidates would enter the fray before any votes were cast).

Given the overwhelming dislike of Hilary Clinton by voters of the Republican Primary, any fake news against her would have likely not swayed an Primary voters as they were already not going to vote for her during the election.

It should be pointed out that total expenditure on all social media advertisements by Russia was $100,000 and they were also highly supportive of Bernie Sanders in the primaries as well. Compared with the estimated $2 Billion of free media advertising during the primary season alone. This dwarfs not only Russia's spending, but even Trump's $10 Million budget, which was modest when compared to the highest three Republican Spenders spending about $160 million combined.

It's likely that if anything that the Russians did to push Trump over the edge, it was likely push Bernie Sanders supporters to Trump, who had related ground in the shared dislike of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That was negotiated by Hilary during her time as Secretary of State, and pushed by her after leaving office until the very tail end of the Primary. When she was in danger of losing Sanders Supporters over her primary victory, and the revelation that the DNC had their thumb on the Scale for her.

Even then, it's likely that this had little to do with any Russian fake news that was read, as the biased dislike was probably there before the Russians tried to seed it.

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    What official word? Can you support that? Special counsel investigations tend to be quite tight lipped, and official words of any kind are almost unheard of until people end up in court or the counsel specifically announces that they are done. It's not in their interest to do otherwise, as it is more likely to hinder their job than not. – zibadawa timmy Mar 17 '18 at 4:00
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    That in no way corroborates the claim in question: "official word from the Mueller investigation is that there is no evidence to suggest any of the Russian meddling was effective at any stage of the election". If anything it lends support to the contrary. All it says is that the indictment carries no charges or allegations at this time of any specific efforts by people to knowingly meddle with or on behalf of the Russians. That they may have done so unwittingly can still yield effective meddling; in fact it makes it a lot easier. – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 '18 at 15:08
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    Again, that's wholly irrelevant to the claim in contention. It says nothing whatsoever about the efficacy of Russian meddling. That Johnny Republican didn't realize he was at the beck and call of Russian masters says absolutely nothing regarding whether or not he and others did a really good job for them. – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 '18 at 15:27
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    @hszmv I'm rather incredulous that you continue to fail to grasp your own words here: official word...there is no evidence to suggest any of the Russian meddling was effective at any stage. What is the official word that supports the claim that there is no evidence Russian meddling was effective? Not suppositions and inferences. Official word. Nothing you've said so far is even remotely relevant. That an indictment specifically saying "it was effective" doesn't exist is not evidence. – zibadawa timmy Mar 21 '18 at 2:23
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    @WanderWillow: Right now, we have to go with who was charged and what for. The Trump people who were charged were not charged for crimes relating to Russia, but for crimes that were uncovered during the course of the investigation. The charges against Russian agents specifically rules out knowledgeable participation of any campaign supporter, which indicates that their is not enough evidence to prove a conspiracy within the Trump Campaign to collude with these Russian agents. At time of writing, this is information available to legally prosecute anyone on the Trump Campaign. – hszmv Mar 23 '18 at 12:42

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