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Poll: Majority of Americans Now See Russia as a Threat

Americans now consider Russia a direct threat to the U.S. and an even larger concern than North Korea, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

(CN) – Americans now consider Russia a direct threat to the U.S. and an even larger concern than North Korea, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin leave after a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans, 52 percent, said Russia is a "critical threat" to the United States for the first time since the pollster asked the question in 2004. The last time Gallup asked the question in 2016, only 39 percent of respondents said they considered Russia a threat.

Russia also topped the list of countries Americans considered the greatest enemy of the U.S., with 32 percent. Another 21 percent named China, while 14 percent listed North Korea. When the same question was asked last year, 51 percent said North Korea was the United States' top enemy compared to just 19 percent who said Russia was. While Democrats were more likely to name North Korea as the second largest threat to the U.S., Republicans were likely to list China (22 percent) and Iran (19 percent) as the top enemy state.

Americans continue to view Russia negatively, as allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections continues to be investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. A record 73 percent of Americans said they view Russia unfavorably, the highest since the country's formation following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia's steep decline in favorability began in 2014 after it granted asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked sensitive information about the government's surveillance techniques. Gallup notes other factors such as Russian support for the Syrian government in the Syrian Civil War and controversial aspects of the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russia also likely played a factor.

With the special counsel's investigation into possible ties between President Donald Trump's campaign staff and Russian officials, the poll reveals a partisan divide over who considers Russia to be the United States' top enemy. While nearly half of Democrats, 46 percent, said Russia is the country's greatest enemy, only 14 percent of Republicans said the same. There was no difference between members of the two parties in opinion over Russia in 2016, according to the poll.

Although Republicans are less likely than Democrats to view Russia as a threat, its popularity remains low among all Americans. Only 30 percent of Republicans reported that they view Russia favorably, compared to 23 percent of independents and just 17 percent of Democrats.

The poll was conducted Feb. 1-10 when Trump announced the U.S. was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty originally signed by former President Ronald Reagan.

The survey interviewed 1,016 American adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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