CNN Poll: Most see Russia as a threat to U.S.
March 14th, 2014
01:01 PM ET
5 months ago

CNN Poll: Most see Russia as a threat to U.S.

Washington (CNN) - As the crisis in the Ukraine continues, a new national poll indicates that for the first time in more than a decade, more than half of Americans see Russia as a serious threat to the U.S.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Friday also indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin's unfavorable rating among Americans has soared over the past month. And the poll indicates that the vast majority of the public says Moscow's actions in neighboring Ukraine break international law, and half of those questioned say a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia is likely.

Read full CNN/ORC International survey results here.

According to the poll, 69% of Americans say they see Russia as threat to the U.S.

"That's a 25-percentage point increase since 2012 and represents the highest number on that question since the break-up of the Soviet Union," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Thirty-one percent now say they don't see Russia as a threat, down from 53% two years ago. The poll indicates that Americans place Russia in the same ballpark as North Korea (71%) and Iran (70%) when it comes to being seen as a threat to the U.S.

Only 11% of those questioned say they have a positive view of Putin, with 68% saying they see him in a negative way.

"The numbers are pretty clear on the Russian president. Americans really don't like Vladimir Putin, whose unfavorable rating has jumped 14 points since early February," Holland added.

No let up in crisis

The poll's release comes as some 8,500 Russian troops staged snap military exercises close to the border with Ukraine. It also comes just two days before the pro-Russian government in Ukraine's autonomous region of Crimean has scheduled a referendum in which residents of the peninsula will vote whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia or to choose effective independence. Ukraine's interim government in Kiev, as well as U.S. and European leaders, have warned that the vote is illegitimate.

Russia has said that it has the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians from "fascists" and nationalists. It denies that its forces are militarily involved in Crimea, despite evidence to the contrary. Crimea is an ethnic Russian-majority peninsula in the country's southeast where local officials have declared their allegiance to Russia and armed men have blockaded Ukrainian military sites.

The U.S. Senate is weighing legislation that could impose economic penalties on Russians involved in the intervention in Crimea. The measure would represent some of the toughest sanctions on Moscow since the end of the Cold War.

A new Cold War?

The poll indicates that more than seven in ten believe that there's no justification for Russia's actions in Ukraine and more than eight in ten say Russia has violated international law.

Four in ten say they worry about the possibility of nuclear war with Russia and nearly half believe that a new Cold War is likely in the next few years.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from Friday through Sunday, with 801 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • CNN/ORC International poll • CNN/ORC poll • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Dmitry

    They should have included a question "can you show Ukraine on the map?". That would be an eye opening statistic.

    March 14, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Mittens may have been right but who gives a damn. He's nobody but a regular citizen, not the POTUS.

    March 14, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    GOP is out of touch. Russia needs bread, GOP is a threat to USA, not Russia. GOP is a cult. You want another war? Go to hell.

    March 14, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. chop

    This would be because 69% of the US are idiots. Putin stepped in trying to keep a democratically elected government in place (that was siding with taking his loan). The US steps in trying to put in place a government that overthrows a democratically elected government. Who is wearing the black hat in this skirmish.

    March 14, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Billy Shears

    "Most Americans?" Romney said it during the last election and was mocked by the media for doing so.
    --------–
    That's not quite what Romney said. Romney had said that Russia was the number one NUCLEAR threat in the world. Pres. Obama disagreed with him, and identified Iran and N. Korea as the top NUCLEAR threats in the world. Romney was properly criticized for ignoring the threats from Iran and N. Korea. How could he be so careless as to ignore them? The rising nuclear threat of both countries has been a long, drawn out talking point against the President's foreign policy record.
    ------–
    Actually, Romney called Russia the number one geopolitcal threat to the United States. The record is out there in the public domain.

    March 14, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. quidestveritas

    it's rather curious that so many on the left get so riled when people suggest that Obama considers the united states to be historically the bad actor in international issues when at the same time the very people who defend him say exactly that. fact of the matter is that we are now at a point that the product of the last couple of decades during which the left, academia and the majority of the media have painted the united states as the "bad guy" has produced a generation of americans that truly believe that united states is the bad guy. moreover, we've become more concerned with offending others than we are with defending our own. I never thought I would say this, but I think we've basically turned the corner to our own oblivion when so many people revile the country in which they live. we've gone from bad "america...love it or leave it" to worse "amurika is evil."

    March 14, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. common sense

    Why on earth would the citizens of the USA see Russia as a threat to them? Maybe only the sheep of the country were polled.

    March 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Tony in STL

    Wow! 800 people is the sample of a nation? Bad math. IMHO. The media seems to like to start fights. But ok.

    March 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    -Reggie53

    Our president made fun of Romney when he said that same thing in the debate. Obama has no leadership skills and that is why we are in this situation. Obama only knows how to give away freebies to get votes. Typical Chicago style politician. Buy your votes!!!!!!
    ******************
    Yes and we all know what Mitt the Twit probably would have done: offered to outsource our military to Russia for the right price. Its easy for the Right to take potshots after the fact, but after 13 years of sending troops abroad to clean up the Bush family's Neocon Crusading mess, there is no real desire to get involved. That, of course, will not stop the Right from ingnoring their own history with Georgia, and declare Obama to be incompetant when he's the one who issued the order to kill Bin laden. Btw, how DO you receoncile your love of Putin 6 months ago with your stating how much of a tyrant he is now?

    March 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. gooddeed

    Propaganda from Russian news outlets and same from US based news outlets. Same in China. Common good folks are tired of this nonsense. All of us good folks help other good folks without borders.

    March 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. djjimi

    Russia isn't the threat, it's China – who would likely side with her. Game over.

    March 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Bill from GA

    Tim – "In the presidential debates there was a question about the biggest geopolitical threat to the U.S. Obama said al quaida and Romney said Russia. "

    Americans killed by Russia recently – ZERO
    Americans killed by al-Qaida recently – probably thousands
    Geopolitically, al-Qaida is a threat about half of the world's population.

    Romney is still a political goofball. Romney supporters claiming mitts would handle Putin better than Obama are worse than goofballs. Hillary was awful dealing with Russia, but Romney makes Hillery look like, well, uh, A PUTIN!

    March 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Paul

    Note: This poll consisted solely of Americans aged 70 and above who still answer calls from unknown callers on their land line phones on Sunday nights.

    March 14, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Rolland Miller

    Most of the rest of the World see the USA as a Threat to the World. The USA has constantly been at war since the second world war. Canadians have seen the Good Guys (USA) become the bad guys. We are opposed to the USA threatening the World.

    March 14, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members

    @Brady: "Our President is clueless, he could be outfoxed and manipulated by a fifth grader…."

    If you knew anything about the Russian people, you'd know that Putin invaded the Crimea because his puppet regime in Kiev was ousted by the people of the Ukraine. There's a saying in Russia, "Don't be a p*ssy."

    Putin felt dissed, so he invaded. Given the pressure he is facing not only from the U.S., but from the international community – including the European Union, with whom Russia has a HUGE amount of economic activity, Vladdy is reconsidering his actions.

    But if you only watch Fox and listen to RWNJ radio, then you are woefully uninformed (and obviously easily led around by the short hairs).

    March 14, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Payne Harrison

    To see how a U.S.-Russian shoot 'em up would play out, read Thunder of Erebus.

    March 14, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Bill from GA

    Tyke – "I thought Congress was the biggest threat to America."

    Hey, Tyke, that's a GOOD ONE!

    March 14, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members

    According to a Pew poll conducted March 6-9, 2014, only 29% of Americans would like for the Obama administration to take a "firm stand" against Russia's incursion into its neighbor; nearly twice as many - 56% - prefer the United States not to get too involved in Ukraine.

    March 14, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. OutThere

    when ussr ceased to exist, russia was given the firmest of the firmest of all promises that nato would never ever EVER expand to the east. now it's at the moscow's gate. so, the poll's real question should be: do you think that usa is a threat to russia?

    March 14, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    waserball

    Will China side with Russia?
    -------------------–
    Militarily, no. Politically, China is most likely to side against the U.S., not necessarily with Russia. There is very little love lost between Russia and China. They share the longest border between countries in the world, and they do not always agree on where they border should be. China will do what is best for China, which is stay out of it altogether.

    March 14, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Gayle

    On its own, not so much. But if China decides to actively back Russia – it's a whole different ballgame.

    In that scenario, it's economic – not military – warfare we have to fear.

    March 14, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. rs

    Bob Marshal

    I guess Romney was right in the debates. Maybe Obama should apologize.
    _______________________
    Identifying the problem and solving it are two different things. I haven't heard anyone on the Right say: "The solution to Russia taking back her former states is.....". Probably because they have no clue.

    March 14, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Chuck

    They must have done the poll in ALASKA!

    March 14, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. rs

    Payne Harrison

    To see how a U.S.-Russian shoot 'em up would play out, read Thunder of Erebus.
    ____________________
    Watching Dr. Strangelove will work pretty well too.

    March 14, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Scott

    An acknowledgement that Romney was right about Russia and Obama mocked and humiliated him would be nice from CNN.

    March 14, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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