Survey Finds American Public Opinion of Russia Falls to Levels Not Seen Since Cold War
CHICAGO - The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released new public opinion survey results today showing that, even before the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 — which some commentators are linking to pro-Russian separatists — American views of Russia have been less positive now than at any time since the Cold War. Yet few consider Russia’s territorial ambitions a critical threat to the United States. This helps to explain why only 30 percent of Americans support a U.S. military intervention in Ukraine if Russia invades the rest of the country.
This analysis is based on data from the 2014 Chicago Council Survey and previous Chicago Council Surveys of the American public on foreign policy. On a scale of 0 to 100, with lower ratings representing less-favorable views, Americans rated Russia a 36 on average. This is just above the ratings Americans gave to the Soviet Union during the Chicago Council’s Cold War-era surveys of 1978 through1986 and is the lowest rating ever given to Russia since the dissolution of the USSR.
Only four in ten Americans (38%) say they see Russia’s territorial ambitions as a critical threat to the vital interests of the United States, while half (50%) say they are an important but not critical threat. In part because Americans do not see Russian ambitions as a threat, a majority of the public opposes using U.S. troops to defend Ukraine in the event of Russian invasion (68%). Even those who perceive a critical threat tend to oppose using U.S. troops for this purpose (51%, with 48% in favor).
Despite their opposition to sending U.S. troops to Ukraine in the event of Russian invasion, a plurality of Americans (43%) say that economic aid to Ukraine should be kept about the same, while an additional 15 percent support increasing that aid. That’s good news for Ukraine. The beleaguered country was recently approved for a $17 billion loan from the IMF, owes $9 billion in foreign-currency payments this year and has seen the value of the hryvnia plummet against international currencies.
The Chicago Council Survey brief released today also includes views of Russia’s influence in the world and generational and partisan differences in perceptions.
The 2014 Chicago Council Survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide research panel between May 6 to May 29, 2014 among a national sample of 2,108 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error for the overall sample is ± 2.1 percentage points.
A report of findings from the 2014 Chicago Council Survey will be released on September 15. The Chicago Council has been conducting nationwide public opinion surveys on American views on foreign policy since 1974. These surveys provide insights into the current and long-term foreign policy attitudes of the American public on a wide range of global topics. Follow @ChicagoCouncil and @RoguePollster or subscribe to receive updates.