CNN Poll: 6 in 10 concerned Trump isn’t doing enough to protect US elections

About 6 in 10 Americans say Donald Trump is not taking seriously enough the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the US presidential election, and about the same share lack confidence the president is doing enough to prevent foreign interference in future elections, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Almost three-quarters (72%) say they are concerned about foreign government interference in US elections generally, including 90% of Democrats, 68% of independents and 53% of Republicans, and 60% say they are not confident the president is doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future American elections.

The poll followed a stretch in which special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including spreading false information on social media, organizing political events, and communicating with “unwitting” people tied to the Trump campaign and others in order to coordinate political activities.

Trump responded to the indictments with a string of tweets emphasizing that his campaign did not collude with Russian operatives, and suggesting that Russia had created discord by prompting an investigation after the election was over, writing, “they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.”

Later, while the poll was fielding, US officials said the administration had warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top officials in the Russian government against meddling in the 2018 election.

Overall, 60% said they were not too or not at all confident in the President’s efforts to keep foreign countries from influencing future US elections; 37% were very or somewhat confident. Beyond the president’s efforts, few in the poll expressed confidence that Congress (37% confident) or tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter (32% confident) are doing enough to prevent future meddling.

Trump’s handling of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election continues to garner negative reviews: Just 30% approve of his handling of it in the new poll, the lowest level in CNN polling by one point. And most, 55%, now say they think the President has attempted to interfere in the investigation, up from 51% saying so in January.

Approval ratings for Robert Mueller’s handling of the investigation have held steady, with 47% saying they approve of his work and 33% disapproving. About one in five have no opinion on Mueller’s performance.

Overall, 61% say the Russia investigation is a serious matter that should be fully investigated, while 34% say it’s mainly an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency. As has been the case for some time, there’s a broad partisan gap on this question, with 89% of Democrats calling it a serious matter and 71% of Republicans saying it’s mainly an effort to discredit Trump.

Partisan gaps are quite wide on concern about several aspects of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 elections. Overall, 66% are concerned about Russian operatives’ contacts with people involved in Trump’s campaign, that includes 91% of Democrats and 63% of independents but just 36% of Republicans.

Likewise, Democrats and independents express greater concern than Republicans on Russian-backed campaigns to spread disinformation to US voters (88% of Democrats, 69% of independents and 47% of Republicans) and to steal and release politically meaningful information (88% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 55% of Republicans).

The gap in concern is narrower, however, on the political motivations behind investigations into that Russian interference, as majorities across party lines express concern about those motivations: 78% of Democrats, 69% of independents and 56% of Republicans concerned about that.

Trump’s approval rating for handling national security more generally is also low: 40% approve, 50% disapprove.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS February 20-23 among a random national sample of 1,016 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.