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Robert Mueller, Russia hardly anywhere to be found on the campaign trail



NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08: Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), speaks at the International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) on August 8, 2013 in New York City. The ICCS, which is co-hosted by Fordham University and the FBI, is held every 18 months; more than 25 countries are represented at this year's conference. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Burton/Getty Images

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is largely a non-issue
    in Republican and Democratic campaigns during the 2018 midterm
    election cycle.
  • The issue is not a high priority among voters, compared
    to topics like healthcare and the economy.
  • Several Democratic lawmakers are using Mueller themes
    in Facebook advertising, but few are actually up for reelection
    in 2018.

WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is currently
heading the special counsel probing Russian interference in the
2016 presidential campaign, is strikingly absent from most
campaign advertising and rhetoric, despite presiding over one of
the most pressing issues among Democrats and Republicans when
they are back on Capitol Hill.

Few elected officials are using Mueller’s name and investigation
in Facebook advertising, according to the social media giant’s
own ad archive.

Sens. Cory Booker, Ed Markey, Gary Peters and Jeff Merkley, all
Democrats, are running a large amount of Facebook ads mentioning
Mueller and a desire to protect the independence of his special
counsel investigation. None of the senators running
Mueller-themed ads are up for reelection this year, however.

Several Democratic senators, including 2020 presidential
contenders Booker, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand had been
running Mueller Facebook ads until recently.

Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island is the only
candidate running in the 2018 cycle with currently active
Facebook ads mentioning Mueller. In addition, the House Majority
PAC, an outside group aligned with House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi, is currently running Facebook ads with language
containing Mueller and the special counsel.

Read more:

House Republicans call for Robert Mueller to resign

Out on the campaign trail, Mueller as a theme is even more

Most Democratic candidates are trying to anchor their campaign
messaging around topics like
and economic issues. For Republicans, Mueller is
entirely absent, with their preferred issues centering on topics
such as immigration.

The special counsel investigation is not a high priority for

The reality, according to one Republican operative, is that most
average American voters that campaigns are looking to court
do not particularly care about the investigation that has
consumed Washington for the past year and a half.

“I think you’d be really surprised as how little of what we get
caught up in actually registers with these voters in these states
and the numbers,” the GOP operative, who requested anonymity to
talk about internal deliberations, told Business Insider.

The operative noted that broader themes like the economy or
localized issues are more effective targets.

“The things we generally find that resonate with voters are not
like 24-hour issues,” the operative said.

For Democrats, too, one campaign operative described the Mueller
probe as “distracting” from issues that voters actually care
about. The status of a secretive investigation involving a large
set of government figures is “not a primary concern” among
average families, they added.

And the idea that voters care more about kitchen table issues is
reflected in polling as well. An October
from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most voters
placed health care as “very important” with a quarter of
respondents calling it the “most important” issue.

Most issues in the poll received similar responses from
Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. One exception was with
immigration, which showed a significant spike among Republicans,
who 31% called their “most important” issue, compared to just 9%
of Democrats and 15% of Independents.

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