Democrats are far more concerned than Republicans that a foreign power will tamper with U.S. elections and they’re more cynical about the government’s ability to respond to a major cyberattack, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday. That partisan divide on basic cybersecurity questions is a troubling signal that government’s handling of an issue officials have called a greater threat than terrorism will be hampered by the sort of partisan bickering that has bedeviled health care, immigration and other topics, experts said. A whopping 87 percent of Democrats believe a hostile power will tamper with U.S. elections compared with 66 percent of Republicans. And just 47 percent of Democrats believe the U.S. government is prepared to deal with a major cyberattack according to Pew, compared with 61 percent of Republicans.
“It’s really strange that election security is becoming a partisan issue, but it is,” Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the New America think tank who has written extensively about cybersecurity, told me.
The partisan divide isn’t just clear in opinion polling: Democrats are turning election security into a top-tier policy issue. Singer pointed to the new House Democratic majority’s decision to include a lengthy section on election security in its first piece of major legislation, the For the People Act, which also tackled issues such as voter access and campaign finance restructuring, which were aimed squarely at jabbing Republicans.