Majority think Russia will interfere in midterm elections

Putin says Kim Jong Un ‘did everything he promised to do’
Vladimir Putin

More than half of American adults say they believe it’s likely there will be Russian interference in November’s midterm elections, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released on Wednesday.

The 57 percent of Americans who believe there will be interference represents a new high since the poll began tracking the question in February when only 41 percent of Americans said the same.

The most likely to believe Russia will meddle in the midterms are strong Democrats (77 percent likely), those who live in suburban areas (68 percent), and whites who graduated college (67 percent). The groups most likely to say Russia won’t do anything are strong Republicans (63 percent), Donald Trump supporters (58 percent), and white evangelical Christians (54 percent).

Only a week after downplaying Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, Trump tweeted Tuesday that he was “very concerned” about Russia meddling in the 2018 midterms — but on behalf of the Democrats. The poll was conducted days before that tweet.

Sixty-nine percent say they believe there was Russian interference in the 2016 election, compared to 24 percent who said there wasn’t.

People are more likely to believe intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI over Trump — who has shifted positions on whether he accepts US intelligence findings on the matter — with regard to whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election at 72 percent to 15 percent. Even Trump supporters (56 percent) believe intelligence agencies over Trump.

When asked what Russian interference refers to in reference to U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, a small plurality agree that Russia impacted the election enough to change the outcome (37 percent), with a quarter that said they impacted the election but not enough to change the outcome. Three in 10 say Russia had no impact on the election.

The poll also found 64 percent of Americans believe Trump hasn’t been tough enough on Russia following his widely criticized summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week in which he touted the Russian leader’s denial of interference.

While Democrats, predictably, feel strongly about the issue (82 percent say Trump hasn’t been tough enough), almost half of Republicans say the president hasn’t been tough enough on Russia (47 percent), with 2 in 10 saying he’s been about right, and a quarter who aren’t sure (one of the highest “unsure” numbers among subgroups).

Americans also would like the investigation into Trump and Russian meddling to continue, with 68 percent saying special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish the investigation.

The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey of 1,061 adults was conducted July 19-22 by The Marist Poll sponsored and funded in partnership with NPR and PBS NewsHour. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers.