Republicans Are Warming To Biden’s Handling Of Ukraine Crisis, Poll Finds
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Topline

Though public opinion on the Biden Administration’s response to the war in Ukraine remains divided along party lines, Republican disapproval has fallen by 12 percentage points in the past two months, according to data published Tuesday by Pew Research Center.

Key Facts

Overall approval for the Biden Administration’s handling of the war in Ukraine has been fairly stable, at47% in March and 45% in May, while disapproval fell from 39% to 34%, reflecting a greater proportion of respondents who did not provide an answer on the topic.

From March to May, the share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who opposed the administration’s response to the war fell from 67% to 55%, while the disapproval rate among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents remained steady at 17%, Pew found.

The proportion of people who strongly disapproved of the administration’s response fell dramatically from 42% to 27% among Republicans and remained steady at 5% among Democrats.

Polarization was less intense when it came to specific policy questions, with 73% of Republicans and 80% of Democrats saying they approved of imposing harsh economic sanctions on Russia.

Pew found 68% of Republicans and 76% of Democrats approved of sending military hardware to Ukraine, mirroring strong bipartisan support in Congress for defense aid bills that have helped send $3.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.

Most Americans—including 56% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats—said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about Russia invading other countries in the region, though Russia has so far avoided striking neighboring countries like Poland, which has been a waypoint for U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Pew surveyed 5,074 U.S. adults online in May.

Tangent

Approval for the Biden Administration’s handling of the war fell among Democrats from 69% in March to 63% in May, according to Pew.

Key Background

Shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, former President Donald Trump remarked that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression was “wonderful” and “genius.” Some pundits on the right, including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, have also been accused of promoting Kremlin-friendly talking points. Despite this, most Republican legislators were quick to condemn the invasion and brand Putin a war criminal over evidence of atrocities in Ukraine, and Putin rapidly grew extremely unpopular among Republicans and Americans generally. In March, Pew found 49% of Republicans thought the U.S. wasn’t doing enough to assist Ukraine, compared to 38% of Democrats. Since then, the drop in Republican disapproval for the administration’s handling of the war may have been prompted by Biden’s $800 million military aid package unveiled in April, as well as his request for $20 billion in additional military aid. Monday, Biden signed into law the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, which could greatly accelerate the pace of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. A separate bill that hasn’t been approved yet would provide Ukraine with nearly $40 billion in aid, including nearly $20 billion in defense aid to cover ammunition, land vehicles, small arms, demining operations, aerial drones and other equipment and training. This bill is set to be debated in the House as early as Tuesday and in the Senate as early as next week. Monday, Biden implored Congress to pass the bill “immediately” and present it to him for signature “in the next few days.”

What To Watch For

While the Ukraine war is important to voters, it seems unlikely to be a decisive issue in the November midterm elections. A March Gallup poll found 22% of Americans consider poor government leadership to be the top issue facing the country, while 17% were most concerned about the high cost of living and inflation and 11% were most concerned about the economy in general. By comparison, just 9% of Americans said the situation with Russia and Ukraine was the U.S.’s biggest problem. A February Pew poll similarly found economic issues dominated Americans’ priorities, although this poll did not include questions about the Ukraine war.

Further Reading

“These Conservatives Are Defending Russia In Ukraine Crisis—And Trump Leads The Way” (Forbes)

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