At a moment of unmatched post-Cold War hostility between the U.S. and Russia, nearly half of Donald Trump’s supporters describe Russia as an ally or a friendly nation, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
And less than one-third of Republicans accept the Obama administration’s conclusion that Moscow is trying to influence the November election through computer hacking, according to the poll.
The poll results illustrate how Trump has managed to maintain his politically unorthodox view that the U.S. should have friendly relations with Russia, even as most other Republicans call for a hard-line response to Moscow’s military role in Syria and Ukraine. Trump has repeatedly said he’d like to “get along” with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin and explored multiple business ventures in the country.
Democrats are far likelier to believe that Russia is trying to influence the 2016 election. Fifty percent say that it is, while just 32 percent of Republicans agree with that conclusion.
Earlier this month, the director of national intelligence and the secretary of homeland security identified Russia’s government as the culprit behind the recent hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails. The officials said the hacks were “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Trump himself has doubted whether Russia is to blame for the stolen emails. “Maybe there is no hacking,” Trump said during his debate with Clinton last week. But speaking on Fox News Sunday, Pence contradicted his running mate. “I think there’s no question that the evidence continues to point in that direction,” Pence said.
The Kremlin is widely considered to favor Trump over Clinton, who is often portrayed in Russian media as having aggressive foreign policy views, and whom Putin has suggested played a part in stirring 2011 protests against his government.
Putin, speaking with reporters on Sunday during a trip to India, said he had “no intention” of influencing the outcome of the U.S. election. But he left little doubt as to where his sympathies lie.
“We don’t know for sure how it will be after the elections,” Putin said, according the Russian news agency TASS. “We don’t know whether … Trump will be implementing his intentions, how far will he go in cooperating with us or whether Mrs. Clinton, if she becomes president, will implement her threats and her harsh rhetoric about Russia. She may correct her position, too. All of it is still unknown to us.”
Although 49 percent of Trump supporters see Russia as either an ally or a friendly nation, they still hold an overwhelmingly wary view of America’s strategic rival. Only 24 percent of Trump supporters say they view Russia favorably, with 19 percent of Clinton supporters saying so.
Among all registered voters, the poll found a divide on whether to retaliate for the alleged Russian hacking: 34 percent said they favor economic sanctions, with 33 percent opposed.
Only 20 percent said the U.S. should take retaliatory cyber attacks against Russia. Fifty one percent said it should not.
On Sunday, Pence told Fox: “There should be severe consequences to Russia or any sovereign nation that is compromising the privacy or the security” of the U.S.
Also Sunday, the Clinton campaign released a statement from senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan saying that Putin “is trying to put his thumb on the scale through cyber-attacks aimed at influencing the election because he knows that Hillary Clinton will stand up to him.”
“Given the alarming set of facts, it’s time for Donald Trump to condemn this modern day Watergate and disclose all of his campaign’s connections to Russia and WikiLeaks,” Sullivan said.
The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted among 1,999 registered voters using an online panel from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15.