DON EMMERT/MICHAEL KLIMENTYEV/Getty Images

Story highlights

Just 12% of those polled have a favorable view of Putin

That's among the lowest ratings found among the 11 world leaders tested

Washington CNN —  

Allegations that Russia’s government sought to influence the US presidential election have captured the attention of a vast majority of the American public, but there is little agreement on whether the allegations are true, or how the new president will handle the country going forward, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.

Overall, nearly 8-in-10 say they have been closely following news about Russia’s attempts to influence the US presidential election last year, including 84% of Democrats, 75% of independents and 72% of Republicans. But the partisan agreement ends there.

Majorities say that if the assessment were to prove true, these attempts would be a crisis or major problem for the US (65% say so), and that the outcome of the election would have been the same regardless of the information released (58% say that). Further, 56% say that despite this situation, the US ought to continue its efforts to improve relations with Russia rather than take strong economic and diplomatic steps against Russia.

The complete CNN/ORC Poll results

But there is less agreement on whether the intelligence community’s conclusions are correct. About 43% say it is extremely or very likely that the intelligence community’s assessment is correct, with another 32% saying that is somewhat likely. About one-quarter, 24%, say it’s unlikely to be true. Democrats are more likely to think the intelligence community’s assessment is correct: 74% of Democrats see that as very or extremely likely, compared with 17% of Republicans.

And partisanship colors views on how big a problem Russian attempts to influence US elections are. Among Democrats, 84% consider it a crisis or major problem compared with just 37% of Republicans. Democrats are also more likely than Republicans to say that information was significant enough to change the result of the election (65% say so vs. just 10% of Republicans).

Among independents, 65% say that if the intelligence community is correct it would be a major problem for the country, but they tend to doubt that it is true, with just 37% saying it’s very likely to be correct and 38% that it could have changed the outcome of the election.

The public is split overall and along partisan lines on whether President-elect Donald Trump will be tough enough on Russia after he’s taken the oath of office Friday, with 47% thinking he’ll be too easy on them, and 43% saying he’ll be about right. Another 8% think he will be too tough toward Russia. Among Democrats, 75% say he’ll be too easy, while 80% of Republicans say his approach will be about right.

There’s a far narrower – though seemingly meaningful – partisan divide in opinions on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Overall, just 12% have a favorable view of Putin, among the lowest ratings found among the 11 world leaders tested in the poll. While 71% overall and majorities across party lines express a negative read on Putin, 23% of Republicans have a favorable view compared with 11% of independents and 4% of Democrats. In December 2014, there was no partisan split in impressions of Putin, with 11% of Democrats, 11% of Republicans and 10% of independents saying they saw him positively.

The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone January 12-15 among a random national sample of 1,000 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.