Democrats view the CIA more favourably than Republicans, according to a December NBC/WSJ poll.
This is the first time since the survey was first conducted in 2002 that Democrats have rated the CIA higher than Republicans have.
Democrats’ and Republicans’ views on the CIA have diverged sharply in the wake of President-elect Trump’s recent criticism of the agency.
The poll, which measured Republican and Democratic sentiment towards the CIA, shows that Democrats now view the CIA with a net favorability of 32%, compared to 4% net favorability for Republicans.
In recent weeks, Trump has steadfastly cast doubt over the credibility of intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia meddled in the US election.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the Trump transition team said in a statement released after the Washington Post published the CIA’s findings last month. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.'”
Trump lashed out at the CIA through his Twitter account several days later. “Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn’t this brought up before election?” he tweeted.
The results of this poll show that public sentiment about the CIA is becoming more partisan. In fact, public sentiment towards a number of government agencies demonstrates the same trend. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2015 highlighted, for example, that Republicans viewed five out of eight government agencies less favourably than Democrats: the EPA, IRS, CDC, VA, and NSA. The only agency Republicans viewed more favourably than Democrats in that survey was the CIA — 64% of Republicans, compared to 46% of Democrats.
“Partisan differences have increased in opinions about both the EPA and the CIA,” the survey said.
Democrats’ views of the CIA were more negative in 2015 than they were five years before. 46% of Democrats viewed the CIA favourably, while 40% viewed it unfavorably, a net favorability of 6%. Comparatively, Republicans viewed the CIA with a net favorability of 35% in 2015.
Favorability based on party affiliation almost flipped completely as of December 2016, with Republicans viewing the CIA with a net favorability of 4%, while Democrats were at 32%.
The divide is even steeper between Trump supporters and those who supported his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Clinton supporters weigh in at a net favorability of 39%, while Trump supporters are at 2%.
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