Are the US elections safe from foreign interference? Americans aren’t sure

February 28, 2020, 7:30 PM GMT+0

Are American elections safe from foreign interference? Most Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll are dubious. Just over half (51%) say they don’t have much confidence that the country can defend itself against foreign interference in the 2020 election. Democrats are especially concerned (70%).

Republicans are much more convinced that the US election system will be safe from foreign interference. Eight in ten (82%) say they are very or somewhat confident in this. Four in ten (41%) are “very confident.”

Foreign interference, particularly Russian interference, continues to be a partisan question. About two-thirds (65%) agree that it would matter “a lot” to them if there were foreign interference. Americans rank Russia as America’s greatest foe, ahead of China and North Korea. Election interference was one of the subjects of this week’s tenth Democratic debate.

But the American public’s view on Russia and any Russian election threat today differ dramatically between Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans rank Russia last when it comes to which country as the greatest foe to the US. China and Iran are at the top of their list. Independents divide closely between China and Russia.

There is consensus among the parties that Russia is not a friendly country. Two-thirds (67%) of Republicans call Russia unfriendly or an enemy, as do three in four (78%) Democrats and a majority (59%) of independents.

But Republicans, like GOP President Trump, reject the claims that Russia is currently interfering in the presidential election (46%), and that it interfered in 2016 (55%).

Two-thirds of those who see Russian interference (the largest share of whom say they are Democrats) believe Russia is interfering to help President Donald Trump. But more than a third believe they are intervening to help Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who currently leads the other Democratic presidential candidates in Democratic voter preference.

But many Americans aren’t sure either candidate wants Russian assistance. Only 17 percent say Sanders wants Russian assistance in his campaign, while 43 percent—more than twice as many—think Trump does want it. Eight in ten Democrats say the President wants Russian election interference (though only 9% of Republicans think that). One-third of Republicans (but just 7% of Democrats) believe Sanders wants Russian assistance.

Read the full toplines and tables results from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Getty