Poll: Americans sour on Russia, Putin
September 18th, 2013
03:56 PM ET
10 months ago

Poll: Americans sour on Russia, Putin

(CNN) – The Cold War may have been over for 20 years but opinions of Russia are starting to chill, with a new opinion poll indicating that overall U.S. opinions of Russia and President Vladimir Putin have soured for the first time in 15 years.

According to Gallup, more Americans now perceive Russia as unfriendly to or an enemy of the United States. Half of all Americans see Russia as antithetical to U.S. interests compared to 44% who see Russia as a friend or ally. Americans had shown a favorable rating of Russia since 1999, with 52% considering Russia a friend or ally as recently as June.

The survey was conducted Sept. 15 and 16, well after an opinion-editorial penned by Putin appeared in the New York Times last week. In that piece, the Russian president attempted to reconnect with Americans over shared history defeating the Nazis in World War II in an attempt to draw support for his diplomatic proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons.

That piece did Putin no favors with American politicians, with widespread condemnation of Putin's attacks on "American exceptionalism" from the likes of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who said he was "insulted" by the editorial.

Americans in general seem to share the sentiment, with 53% holding an unfavorable opinion of Putin compared to just 19% who see him favorably. The last time Gallup asked for U.S. opinions of Putin in 2003, it was 38% favorable to Putin and 28% unfavorable.

That hasn't stopped Americans from still supporting Putin's plan for Syria's chemical weapons handover, with 72% approving of the plan compared to 18% who disapprove. Half of Americans thought Putin's involvement in the Syria crisis was helpful compared to 36% who called it harmful.

McCain: Russia's Syria proposal 'has to be explored'

U.S. opinions of Russia have been in steady decline from a 2006 peak when 73% saw Russia as a friend or ally.

Seven years later, Americans seem to be agreeing more and more with former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who famously drew mockery and guffaws when he referred to Russia last March as the United States' "number one geopolitical foe."

Romney: Obama fails on Russia

Since that time, Russia has resisted U.S. efforts against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, working to keep him in power even while trying to negotiate a handover of Syria's chemical weapons. Russia has used its permanent member veto to resist efforts in the U.N. Security Council to authorize the use of force in the event Syria changes its mind on a handover.

Russia has also argued that the believed August chemical weapon attack that spurred President Barack Obama to consider a military strike was carried out not by Assad's forces but by the rebel forces attempting to oust him from power.

Nor has Syria been the only point of contention between the U.S. and Russia, with a majority of Americans, 64%, disapproving of the asylum Russia granted to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Obama and others have also been critical of Russian human rights issues, namely the banning of "propaganda" by gays and lesbians. Of the Americans who'd heard of that ban and other actions against gays and lesbians in Russia, 69% disapproved of Russia's policies.

This is Putin's third term in office, having pushed through a change to the Russian constitution that allowed him to return as president after hitting a term limit that forced him to swap with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The Gallup poll has a sampling error of +/- 4% and was conducted via telephone interviews Sept. 15-16, 2013, with a random sample of 1,010 adults age 18 and over across all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.


Filed under: Russia
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. tom l

    But according to all of the dems I see here Obama was brilliant in "negotiating" with the Russians so we didn't have to back up his words about the red line. So most Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of the country (Russia) and the man (Putin) who is supposed to account for all of Syria's biological weapons. Plus, according to PD Sniffit, Putin is a racist who doesn't even like Obama. So this is was a good deal, huh?

    September 18, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Data Driven

    I would have liked to see the partisan breakdown of these numbers. Because if the Ticker is any guide, many conservatives think Putin's awesome: they seem to be under the impression that he showed up the President (even though he's doing precisely what Obama wants him to do).

    September 18, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Who are these 19%? Anyway, we ain't worried about Putin. He's trying to save face with his own people. He don't want no beef for real.

    September 18, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Oh, I'm sure Putin will be a speaker at CPAC next year, right after Trump and Ted Nugent.

    September 18, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Republicans love Putin. He still could lead the republican ticket in 2016 as his anti gay stance coincides with right wingnuts, but what helps, is his protection of Assad.

    September 18, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. it must be said

    Once again, the President demonstrated excellent leadership skills!

    September 18, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    The picture for this article speaks volumes to me. It looks like Barack is telling Vlad, "you know I'll bomb them regardless of what Congress says right?"

    September 18, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. boungiorno

    keep lieing it looks good on you

    September 18, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. the hippies were right

    @Tom I, Did we go to war? Did we kill thousands of innocent people? Did we waste billions of tax payers dollars? Did we lose any of our military personnel? What do you consider a good thing? Also, every time you use the word "agenda", your wool shows!

    September 18, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Putin can have a job on Faux anytime. Saw some of their "anchor's" comments on Jon Stewart. How cute of them.

    September 18, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Guess Who

    Of course opinion polls will turn like this. All of the Democrats and liberals didn't like it when Putin made Obama look like an incompetent fool in the Syria fiasco. Strange that Obama's knee slapping buddy would have done that to him. Obama needs to pick his friends better I guess.

    September 18, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    And BTW, "tom l," did you even have a freekin point in that incoherent word salad attach rant? Seriously. Putin insulted every 'Murkin in the country who buys the "we're special and exceptional and blah blah blah greatest country on earth in everything" nationalist fascism precursor crap when he challenged that line of malarkey in a NYT op-ed. Of course his "approval rating" sank with the 'Murkan public.

    And if you think the administration wasn't directly negotiating with Russia, particularly Putin and Lavrov, the entire time this has all been going on, then you're a fool. Now grow up and learn to make cogent arguments without advertising your crush on me.

    September 18, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    -tom l

    But according to all of the dems I see here Obama was brilliant in "negotiating" with the Russians so we didn't have to back up his words about the red line. So most Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of the country (Russia) and the man (Putin) who is supposed to account for all of Syria's biological weapons. Plus, according to PD Sniffit, Putin is a racist who doesn't even like Obama. So this is was a good deal, huh?
    *****************
    And according to the righties on here, Putin is a genius and an adult: they are showing admiration for a man who has shown contempt for anything remotely resembling democracy, and who's only virtue is that he is Obama's opponant on the world stage. By the way, find something else to discuss other than your belief that Sniffit is fixated on denouncing any opponant of Obama as a racist; its bordering on pathological, my friend.

    September 18, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Who are these 19%? Anyway, we ain't worried about Putin. He's trying to save face with his own people. He don't want no beef for real."

    The GOP/Teatrolls do though. He directly attacked their blind nationalistic fervor. Moreover, they just want to aggravate relations with Russia and then blame it on Obama after they do things...like publishing their nationalistic screeds in Pravda over in Russia...that get Russians upset with the US and (they hope) produce maybe a poll or two showing Russia's public opinion of the US has gone down recently, which they would promptly start yelling about as Obama's fault.

    September 18, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. smith

    I really don`t care about Putin but if he didn`t get involved we would be bombing Syria right now and the rebels(terrorist and AQ) would have gained the upper hand in the war.

    September 18, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. tom l

    @Data
    I think you are misinterpreting what conservatives think of Putin. They do not think Putin is awesome whatsoever. They think he gave Obama a lesson and made the U.S. look weak. But, by no means, do any conservatives think that Putin is awesome. Unlike the left, who somehow feel that Syria was a political victory for Obama, I think that this was a bad deal for the U.S. credibility. Can you see how some would feel that way? Putin and Russia, not Obama and the U.S., were the ones who looked diplomatic and sure of themselves. Obama and the U.S. looked confused and certainly did not back up the "red line" that we had supposedly drawn.
    Now, I hope you realize that I want no part of Syria and think our involvment was a bad move in every way, shape and form. I'd like to hear your response, because as I have said before, at least you listen to what the other side says. But please remember that I am not really a conservative, I'm a libertarian.

    September 18, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    I don't know about sour but at least he is trying, in his own KGB creepy way, something our own kgb/tea tards can't and won't.
    Watching the Ed Show and a woman who was not allowed to testify by the car thief. Her daughters, cancer, have been able to receive treatment because insurance companies CANNOT deny them!

    September 18, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Me

    Sniffit

    And BTW, "tom l," did you even have a freekin point in that incoherent word salad attach rant? Seriously. Putin insulted every 'Murkin in the country who buys the "we're special and exceptional and blah blah blah greatest country on earth in everything" nationalist fascism precursor crap when he challenged that line of malarkey in a NYT op-ed. Of course his "approval rating" sank with the 'Murkan public.

    And if you think the administration wasn't directly negotiating with Russia, particularly Putin and Lavrov, the entire time this has all been going on, then you're a fool. Now grow up and learn to make cogent arguments without advertising your crush on me.
    ________________________

    Looks like you hit a nerve too tom. Talk about incoherent rant, pot meet kettle.... I bet smoke is coming out of sniffits ears right about now judging by this incoherent word salad as you put it sniffit. Fact is you do turn everything into racism, plan and simple!!!

    September 18, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. Wake up People!

    I've never seen so many Amurikkkans praise a true communist. The GOP needs to change their name to the Taliban II.

    September 18, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. tom l

    @The Real TP
    "But according to all of the dems I see here Obama was brilliant in "negotiating" with the Russians so we didn't have to back up his words about the red line. So most Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of the country (Russia) and the man (Putin) who is supposed to account for all of Syria's biological weapons. Plus, according to PD Sniffit, Putin is a racist who doesn't even like Obama. So this is was a good deal, huh?
    *****************
    And according to the righties on here, Putin is a genius and an adult: they are showing admiration for a man who has shown contempt for anything remotely resembling democracy, and who's only virtue is that he is Obama's opponant on the world stage. By the way, find something else to discuss other than your belief that Sniffit is fixated on denouncing any opponant of Obama as a racist; its bordering on pathological, my friend."

    Hey TP,
    Hope you're well. I think it was highly relevant to bring up the fact on this story that PD Sniffit absolutely made the claim on several occasions that Mr. Putin was a racist. There is no way he can deny that. So I am merely asking him how we can work with Putin now. Do you not see the irony? And I know you remember when Sniffit made those claims. I just love to point out the intellectual dishonesty he shows here despite all of the 25 cent words he uses.

    As far as repubs are concerned, they do not like Putin at all. They feel that he totally out-maneuvered our President and looked much more diplomatic and sure of himself. Obama was the one who backed off of his statement and then only due to an apparent gaffe by his SOS was he able to back himself out of the corner that he put us in. He absolutely looked like the one who saved the day and stopped us from bombing Syria (which would have backed up Obama's words) so I really believe the left is completely misinterpreting things here. And remember, I knew that anything to do with Syria was a political disaster waiting to happen. If you don't see the credibility that we as a nation have lost over this incident then I think you aren't really looking at things honestly. Hope you're having a great day. I really do enjoy the conversation with you and with Data Driven. I think you are 2 very honest people who just happen to have a different point of view on how our country would best be run.

    September 18, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Americans sour on Russia, Putin , as is Russians on America and Obama .

    the sad deal is that others suffer from the giant ego of nationalism .

    September 18, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. Tampa Tim

    While republicans are following from behind, Obama is leading from ahead. Republicans are too busy destroying our country to be creditable.

    September 18, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. Tampa Tim

    Yes, republicans and Putin have a lot in common.

    September 18, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. anonymous

    I like Putin. He stopped that war monger Obama from taking this country to war again. Assad can stay in power for the moment. He is the lesser of two evils. Too bad it made Obama look weak and indecisive. He always does.

    September 18, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. the hippies were right

    @ Tom I, no Obama didn't look confused to those of us who can think deeper than TV screen. Fox "spews" made you believe Obama looked confused. There is reality and there is your world or bubble.

    September 18, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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