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Almost 4 in 10 Americans believe a foreign government has interfered in 2020 election, survey says

  • September 18, 2020

WASHINGTON – With less than 50 days until the general election, nearly four in ten Americans believe a foreign government has already interfered with the 2020 presidential election, according to a new survey.

Among the 39% of Americans who believe a foreign government has already interfered in the November election, 76% said it is somewhat or very likely to alter the election’s outcome, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. 

“There is a deep amount of anxiety among the American public and foreign interference this time,” said Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.

More:Ex-intelligence chief Dan Coats: Congress must create election commission so democracy can survive 2020

The survey comes a month after an intelligence assessment published by the chief of the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center found that Russia is actively working to “denigrate” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, while China views President Donald Trump as “unpredictable” and prefers that he not win re-election. The assessment also concluded that Iran is working to undermine Trump.

Intelligence officials previously found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in hopes of benefiting Trump’s presidential campaign. 

Among those surveyed who believe interference has occurred, the majority (59%) believe it is to benefit the Republican party, according to the Nationscape Insights analysis, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY. Twenty percent believe it’s aiding the Democratic Party and 12% say that the interference is trying to help both parties.

The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate designed to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The most recent poll was done Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, with 6,221 Americans surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

There are also substantial partisan divides among those who say foreign interference has already occurred. 

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More than half (54%) of Democrats say that foreign interference has already occurred, compared to 31% of independents and 31% of Republicans.

Griffin said of the partisan divide that “we’re still seeing the shadows of 2016 here.”

“There’s an element here where people’s attitudes are just aligning with sort of the reality of the situation of 2016,” Griffin said.

Although there is also a strong partisan difference as to who the foreign interference is trying to help, even Republicans are likely to say the interference will benefit their party.

Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) of Republicans say interference will help the Democratic Party, but about half (51%) say it will help the GOP.

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Among Democrats, 18% say interference will help their party while 69% say it will help the Republican Party. Among independents, 15% say it will help Democrats while 48% say it will help Republicans.

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