Most Americans Fear Foreign Meddling in 2020 Election

(CN) – A majority of Americans worry about potential foreign interference in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found Democrats are much more likely to express concern about foreign election interference than Republicans, but concern is present across the political spectrum.

Such interference could take the form of tampering with election results, hacking into election systems in order to modify outcome, or stealing information to influence candidates or public opinion.

All told, 63% of Americans harbor major concern about at least one of the types of election interference, with 80% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans expressing worry.

Regarding hacking in particular, 52% of respondents said they are concerned about hacking into the nation’s voting system, with 67% of Democrats voicing extreme concern compared to just 38 percent of Republicans.

Interference could also take the form of disinformation campaigns based on stolen material, similar to how WikiLeaks used emails stolen from Hilary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta to cast doubt on the candidate’s honesty and ties to Wall Street.

About 69% of Democrats surveyed expressed extreme concern regarding a possible repeat performance, while only 32% of Republicans share the feeling. However, 62% of Republicans said they are at least somewhat concerned about the prospect compared to 92% of Democrats.

The poll comes in the aftermath of comments by President Donald Trump last week in which he indicated he did not see anything wrong with accepting information on a political opponent from a foreign government despite it being prohibited by law.

Trump later walked back the position, saying he would submit the information to the FBI after reviewing it.

The controversy refocused attention on the Mueller report, which concluded Russia did interfere in the 2016 presidential election to benefit Trump, though the report stopped short of saying whether the president welcomed that interference or abetted it.

Only 24% of respondents were willing to say the Mueller report, released in March after two-year investigation, exonerated the president. By comparison, 44% said the report did not clear the president of criminal conspiracy with the Russian government and 31% said they didn’t know enough to say either way.

A smaller percentage of respondents said the report cleared Trump of obstruction, with 20% saying he was exonerated in the report, while 48% disagree and 30% say they don’t know enough.

The electorate generally disapproves of Trump’s handling on the issue of election interference and Russia’s effort in 2016. Only 34% approve of Trump’s handling the Russia investigation, while 64% disapprove.

However, that disapproval has not translated to a widespread desire for impeachment.

According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, also released Wednesday, only 38% of registered voters called said they believe the Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. By contrast, 48% said Congress should not impeach Trump.

However, the poll showed an increase in desire for impeachment among Democrats.

About 65% of self-identified Democrats said they support impeaching Trump, a sharp increase from April when only 59 percent supported impeachment.

“While there hasn’t been a huge surge in support for impeachment over the past few months, we have seen a steady drumbeat across a number of data points that show impeachment is gaining even more support among Democrats,” said Tyler Sinclair, vice president at Morning Consult. “That being said, support has remained steady among independents and very low with Republicans.”

The Politico/Morning Consult poll involved 1,992 registered voters and was conducted June 14-16. The margin of sampling error is 2 percentage points. The AP-NORC poll involved surveying 1,116 adults between June 13-17. The margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points.

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