Public Polling On Our Role In Ukraine

Feb. 24, 2022

Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, I thought it would be worth documenting where public opinion stood on what our role should be. I fully expect the narrative to shift here, similar to the partisan shift on the view of the economy immediately after the election.

According to an AP-NORC poll completed this weekend, only 26 percent of those polled believed the US should have a major roll in the conflict, with 52 percent saying we should have a minor role, and 20 percent said no role at all. And in this poll, Democrats were saying we should have more of a role than Republicans, 32 percent to 22 percent of Republicans believing we should have a major roll.

In a January 12-14 poll by Convention of States Action/Trafalgar Group found that just 15.3 percent of those polled believed we should have troops involved, a number that stood at 16.4 percent of Republicans polled in that one. Both parties preferred diplomatic pressure only, with 30.7 percent of Democrats and 35.4 percent of Republicans favorite that action alone. The next most popular option was providing weapons and supplies to Ukraine.

This has all been a growing trend of public perception back to more of an isolationist mentality. Consider it a by-product of a two-decade war on terror that many viewed as largely fruitless. True or not, the perception is there.

Yet, despite this polling, you will soon see the partisan shifts. Expect a much larger percentage of Republicans to now disapprove of how we have handled this conflict, despite being largely in favor of being hands off before. This is just the way political perception works. It has already started. A flash Gallup survey released yesterday (Feb. 23) found that 86 percent of Republicans disapproved of Biden’s handling of Ukraine, despite the fact he was doing exactly what 78 percent said he should be doing.

Do not be the least bit surprised when you start seeing Uncle Facebook start posting about our weak leadership, being bullied, etc., despite previously supporting the exact positions that they now will say led to this. You will see them talk about oil dependence, ignoring that domestic production has increased this year. Yes, that is largely pandemic related and has little to do with anything this administration has done. That won’t stop them from pointing to that as well.

Foreign policy doesn’t often move the needle for the average voters, but this one could see a dissonant shift similar to the economic polling from last year. In November 2020, less than 10 percent of Republicans said the economy was getting worse, 10 months after the Coronova virus stock market dip. Within weeks of the election, close to 80 percent said it was getting worse. Democrats did the same thing in reverse, going from close to 70 percent to less than 10 percent. The economy actually showed signs of improving in that two month stretch, but the guy “in charge” changed, so the polling changed.

Update: Feb. 28, 2022

In an updated Economist/YouGov poll, 57 percent said they supported the sanctions imposed and 56 percent opposed sending troops. Those are the two positions the Biden administration has taken. And yet, despite a majority of people agreeing with Biden’s positions in both, only 34 percent say they have approve of how Biden is handling the situation with Russia and Ukraine. Nearly half, 48 percent, disapprove. That is roughly in line with his overall job approval rating.

So…about what we predicted in the original post. Even with a majority of people who agree with the specific things he is doing, the people’s minds were made up already on whether he is handling it correctly or not.

Update: March 18, 2022

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