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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What America Thinks: Red Scare

Donald Trump’s been having a pretty good year, but Russia could quickly become his first big stumbling block as president. Given concerns about Russia's actions in Syria and Ukraine and claims by some in the intelligence community that Russian hackers helped sway the election in Trump's favor, the president-elect's nominee for secretary of State, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, could face problems getting confirmed by the Senate. Tillerson, who has had extensive business dealings with the Russians and has strong ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, may find that Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham can't support him. So what does America think about Russia these days?

Americans haven’t ever been fans of the onetime USSR, and Trump’s attempts to forge a new relationship with the nation haven’t changed that. Just 17% of Likely Voters see Russia as an ally in the fight against ISIS in the Middle East, and 21% see them as an enemy. Those numbers have flip-flopped a bit over the last year. Voters still overwhelmingly believe radical Islamic terrorism is a bigger national security threat to the United States than Russia, but regardless, voters have always kept Russia at arms’ length in that fight.

A year ago, most saw the United States’ worsening relationship with Russia as a bad thing for our country and said a return to a 1950s-like Cold War relationship was likely.

Today, voters are still dubious about ties to Vladimir Putin and his nation. Forty-five percent (45%) think it’s likely the Russian government helped Trump win the election. Just as many, though, say it’s unlikely. Not surprisingly, there’s a big partisan divide. But voters are still worried about Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State who has some longstanding business ties with Russia and Putin. Forty-six percent (46%) think those Russian connections are bad for the United States.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.