One of the things that has been frustrating for those of us who like a little unfettered democracy in our elections has been reports that polling shows that the majority of Americans don’t find the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to rig the 2016 election critical. But apparently that doesn’t mean that they don’t think that actual Russian interference in our elections isn’t a big deal. It all depends on how the question is asked.
In an exclusive new Axios poll, they asked the question “How much do you trust the Trump administration to prevent foreign interference in the 2018 midterms?”
The news was not very good for Trump and the Republicans. The overall population has little faith that the Trump administration will do anything concrete to combat foreign (read Russian) interference in 2018, only 40% felt the GOP would do a lot or a little, while 55% said not much or nothing at all. The party breakdowns were about what you’d expect, with 81% of Trumpaholics having blind faith in Glorious Bleater, and 86% of Democrats believing that Trump will pay for advertisements on Russian troll articles. The most important statistic to my eye was that independents have a negative view of Trump’s stopping interference, with 63% saying the GOP will take little or no action to prevent interference.
Just a quick word of warning about “independents.” As party polarization increases, and gridlock in congress gets worse, more and more people are leaving party affiliations and calling themselves “independents.” This can be misleading, since a large number of them tend to actually side personally with one party or the other, they just refuse to be publicly affiliated with them. The fact that a clear majority of them believe that Trump and the GOP will do nothing to stop it is striking, as it means at least some “sane” Republican leaning voters are concerned about GOP inactivity on this front..
Axios points out that this has to be alarming news for the Republicans for one simple reason. While 63% of respondents say that it is the tech companies like Facebook and Twitter that bear the brunt of the responsibility to get their shit together on this, an identical 63% say that the government bears the responsibility to do more to protect our elections. And while Americans can’t control what the social media behemoths do, they can control what the government does, through their votes. If the majority of American voters feel that the GOP will slide on this, they may vote Democratic to protect democracy. This is why it was so important that Admiral Mike Rogers, head of US Cyber Command testified to congress that Trump has failed to give him direct orders authorizing him to disrupt Russian meddling attempts. Packaged properly, this could confirm to voters that Trump is willing to tolerate Russian interference so long as it benefits Republicans. This could turn the tide of independents even more firmly against the GOP in November.
Here is the warning for Democrats. Overall, 55% of Americans fear that 2018 may be tainted by a repeat of Russian interference. This lack of faith in the integrity of the system could lead to voter apathy, and a decreased turnout if people believe their vote may not matter. It is going to be critical for the Democrats to hammer home the message that the only way to combat Russian interference in the midterms is for every single voter to get out to the polls to show that they can’t be misled, intimidated, or discouraged. Those votes are going to be critical in building the blue wave that will restore sanity to the House.
It appears that the results of this poll indicate trouble for the Republicans heading into November. If polling continues to show that the voting public recognizes the threat of Russian interference in 2018, it will keep the pressure front and center on Trump and the Republicans to take action to combat it, a fact the GOP would rather keep in the woodshed. It is up to the Democrats to paint the GOP at every opportunity as showing the Russians open arms instead of crossed swords when it comes to meddling in our elections.