Americans Are Sort Of OK With Foreign Election Meddling*

Michael Tomz and Jessica Weeks, a pair of political scientists, recently did a bit of research to find out what people thought about foreign election interference. They surveyed several thousand people, giving them different scenarios for foreign meddling (endorsements, contributions, hacking into voting systems) and asked what they thought about each of them. Here are the basic results:

This is odd. “Stay Out” means what it sounds like: in this scenario the foreign country did nothing. And yet, 5 percent of the respondents disapproved. On the other end, 10 percent of the respondents were OK even if a country hacked our election machines to change the vote count.

What the hell? Is this for real, or just some kind of mistake? Here’s another question:

A full 18 percent of the respondents supported economic sanctions against a country that did nothing. This is nuts. What could account for it? Maybe this:

*Disapproval levels were strongly partisan: large numbers of both Democrats and Republicans were OK with foreign interference as long as it hurt the other party. This effect was strongest for things like simply endorsing a candidate, but still noticeable even for more extreme actions like contributing money, spreading lies, or hacking voting machines.

In other words, the results of the top chart are probably real: a small number of people were upset if a country stayed neutral because they actively wanted foreign interference against the opposition party. Likewise, a small number of people approved of vote machine hacking, presumably on the assumption that it would be used to help their own party.

These numbers aren’t huge, and it’s just a survey. So I guess we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape about it. Still, this hardly instills a lot of faith in our fellow voters, does it?


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.