American intelligence agencies have warned that Russia, China, and Iran will seek to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. On Friday, Microsoft announced that it had detected and blocked cyberattacks from those three countries. While supporters of President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden do not agree on much — there is consensus that foreign countries are trying to interfere in the upcoming presidential election.
Most voters in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll agree that both Russia and China are trying to influence the upcoming election or spread disinformation in order to destabilize the United States. Voters are most likely to see Russia as trying to influence the election (68% of registered voters say this), and next is China (57%). A third believe Iran is. Biden voters are much more focused on Russia; Trump voters are focused on China’s possible influence.
When asked which candidate the country’s may be interfering to support, responses vary based on who the respondent is supporting in the general election. Biden supporters overwhelmingly see Russian involvement as favoring Trump; Trump – by two to one – think Russia wants to help the Democratic nominee. There is less partisan disagreement when it comes to China, as both groups believe China favors Biden over the president. Trump voters say the same thing about Iran, while Biden supporters aren’t sure which candidate Iran favors.
The difference in opinions about Russian intentions demonstrates the role of partisanship. The 2019 Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller provided information to support the claim that Russia was trying to help the president win in 2016. Most Democrats, but not Republicans, believed that. Now, Biden supporters overwhelmingly view the president as benefiting from Russian involvement in this election (84%), while only one in five Trump voters supporters (22%) believe that is the case.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between September 6 - 8, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.4% for the overall sample.