Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One Aspect of the Cold War is Back: Russian and American Publics Are at Historic Odds

Russian approval of their president, Vladimir Putin, couldn’t get much higher and disapproval of American leadership any lower. Numerous Russian polls report Putin’s approval among his citizens at 80 percent or higher. But Gallup reported in 2015 only one percent of Russians approved of U.S. leaders – “worst rating in world” and “lowest approval for the U.S. in the past decade.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Defense Minister Sergei
Sholgu (R) and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Kremlin on
Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 (Photo: Wall Street Journal)
Well before reports of Russian intervention in the U.S. election, American opinion of Russia had sunk to new lows. Only 22 percent of U.S. have a favorable opinion of Russia. The new low reported by Gallup reflects the criticism of Russia related to the Crimea, Ukraine, Syria and Edward Snowden.

One observation that stands out from the data is an uptick in partisan difference. A significant gap now appears between Democrats and Republicans, with a recent YouGov survey showing only 16 percent of Democrats see Russia as an ally or friendly, but 31 percent of Republicans categorized them that way, a significant jump since July 2016.

It remains to be seen if President-elect Trump and foreign policy elites so inclined (i.e., realists, nationalists, etc.) can head off a further deterioration in relations, but the public in both countries already feel winter is coming.

Wall Street Journal: Obama sanctions Russia, expels 35
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Majority of Americans – except for Republicans – back congressional inquiry; survey shows 30-year lows for Russian’s favorability
Gallup: The 2016 year in review at Gallup.com
FiveThirtyEight: All of a sudden, Russia has become a partisan issue

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