Emerging Partisan Division on Support to Ukraine
Consensus on how long to provide economic and military aid to Ukraine appears to be weakening as the war enters its tenth month.
A just-released November 18-20 Chicago Council survey shows that a number of policies designed to support Ukraine or punish Russia still enjoy bipartisan support as in July. But consensus on how long to provide economic and military assistance to Kyiv seems to be weakening as the war enters its tenth month. While a majority of self-described Democrats and a plurality of Independents prefer to continue support indefinitely, GOP supporters increasingly favor winding down US assistance to Ukraine to avoid high costs for American households.
Gap Grows on Specific Policies
Bipartisan majorities of the public still support a number of the key policies the Biden administration has put in place to help Ukraine or punish Russia. These include imposing economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia, accepting Ukrainian refugees into the United States, and sending arms and military supplies to the Ukrainian government. The public also remains united in its belief that the United States should not send its own troops to Ukraine to help the country defend itself. For many of these policies, particularly imposing sanctions and accepting refugees, levels of public support have remained remarkably steady since March 2022.
Despite continuing bipartisan support for current policies, some differences have emerged over the last eight months. This growing division is particularly notable when it comes to economic and military aid to Ukraine. In March, only 11 points separated Republicans (74%) and Democrats (85%) on their support for sending economic assistance to the country. Since then that gap has nearly tripled, mainly due to a change in opinion among Republicans, whose support has plummeted to 50 percent while 81 percent of Democrats remain supportive of the policy. Similarly for military assistance to Ukraine, the sevenfold increase in the partisan gap between March (3-point gap) and November (21-point gap) is largely attributable to a drop-off in support among Republicans (now 55%, down from 80%). Support for military aid has also dropped among Democrats, but much more modestly (now 76%, down from 83%).
Republicans and Democrats remain united in their support for sanctions on Russia. And while there is a wide gap between the parties on their level of support for accepting Ukrainian refugees, it has only grown slightly since March.
Longevity of US Support for Ukraine
In July, seven in 10 Democrats (69%) and half of Republicans (50%) believed that the United States should continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, even if that meant higher food and gas prices for American households. Now, only a third of Republicans hold that view (33%), and the majority would prefer to instead urge Ukraine to settle for peace as soon as possible so that costs won’t be so high at home, even if it means losing territory. Six in 10 Democrats continue to favor supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes regardless of costs (61%), but over a third would now urge a peace settlement (36%). Independents, for their part, are now equally divided between the two options (46%) each, while in July a majority preferred to support Ukraine for the long haul (55%).
In a separate question, a plurality of Republicans favor gradually withdrawing US support for Ukraine (46%) versus supporting Ukraine indefinitely (28%) or intervening militarily to help Ukraine quickly end the war in its favor (28%). The plurality support for gradually withdrawing US support, combined with a desire to end the conflict in order to reduce prices for American households, could suggest that in the last few months many Republicans have come to see US support for Ukraine as too costly. In contrast to Republicans, a majority of Democrats (53%) and a plurality of Independents (39%) think the United States should maintain the current level of support indefinitely.
In recent months, some Republican lawmakers in Washington have questioned whether it is in the best interests of the United States to continue supporting Ukraine in the way that it has since the Russian invasion in February. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy received a lot of press for his comment that Ukraine would not continue to receive a “blank check” from the United States if Republicans won legislative majorities in the midterms. And in a recent press conference Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was one of 57 Republicans to vote “no” on President Joe Biden’s May aid package to Ukraine, said that she expects that number to grow for future aid proposals. While many Republicans at both the policymaking and public levels continue to support US aid to Ukraine, support is slipping among an increasingly large portion of the party. Even though his own party and supporters remain ready to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, Biden will have to contend with this growing opposition as he attempts to provide more aid to Ukraine in the coming months.
Nearly half of Americans (47%) now say Washington should urge Kyiv to settle for peace as soon as possible.
Survey results show the public remains supportive of US assistance to Ukraine—even if it means paying higher gas and food prices at home.
"Liberal Democrats are far and away Ukraine’s strongest American supporters," Dina Smeltz and Emily Sullivan write.
"Support for restraint is found in the goals Americans prioritize for the US response to the war," Mark Hannah and Dina Smeltz write.