Plagiarized speeches. Unpaid tax returns. Inflammatory rhetoric captured in an old newspaper clipping.
For decades, political operatives have embarrassed and discredited their opponents through the dark arts known as opposition research, the kind of provocative dirt-digging deemed essential to any winning campaign.
But as the 2018 midterm election begins, strategists from both parties are confronting a new, Donald Trump-affected reality: Revelations that would have once infuriated the public, even scuttled a campaign, now risk being greeted with indifferent shrugs.
“The bar for disqualifying candidates is almost invisible at this point, it’s so high,” said Tim Miller, once the executive director to America Rising, a GOP opposition research group. “Especially given the fact Donald Trump is president and he committed at least two dozen gaffes and actions that would have crushed…