Public Concern Over Russia Hits Highest Level Since The Cold War

Most Americans are also disturbed by the allegations linking Russia to the Trump campaign.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably not America's best friend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably not America's best friend.
Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool/Reuters

Americans today are more likely to see Russia as a threat than at any time since the end of the Cold War, according to a new CNN/ORC poll released Monday.

Seventy-five percent now rate Russia as either a “very serious” or “moderately serious” threat. The last time Americans were as wary came in November 1985, when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was preaching glasnost.

Data from CNN/ORC

More recently, the percentages started to increase in 2012 during a period of increasing tensions between the United States and Russia. In recent months, they have risen again amid the controversy over possible Russian interference in the U.S. election and the claims of ties between the Russian government and President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team. Thirty-four percent of Americans now say Russia is a very serious threat, while 41 percent say it’s a moderately serious threat.

While this shift is driven mostly by Democrats’ concerns, Republicans and independents are not optimistic about Russia either. The majority of Democrats ― 51 percent ― say that country is a very serious threat. The majority of Republicans ― 53 percent ― think it’s a moderately serious one. Overall, 85 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents see Russia as threatening to at least some degree.

As for the claims that people associated with Trump’s campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives, 55 percent of Americans say they are very or somewhat concerned about the allegations, compared to 45 percent who are not too or not at all concerned.

The CNN/ORC poll also looked at how Americans view other foreign adversaries. As with Russia, 75 percent see Iran as a serious threat. But more people are worried about North Korea and ISIS, with 81 percent saying North Korea is a very or moderately serious threat, and 91 percent reporting the same about ISIS. People are less concerned about China, with 63 percent calling it very or moderately threatening.

Data from CNN/ORC

The CNN/ORC survey results generally agree with other recent polling on American attitudes toward Russia. A February Gallup poll showed 70 percent with an unfavorable opinion of that country, which ties that poll’s record high since 1989. A January Quinnipiac poll found almost half of U.S. voters consider Russia an adversary.

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted March 1-4 among a random national sample of 1,025 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Error margins are larger for subgroups.

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