July 21st, 2014
04:01 PM ET
4 months ago

CNN poll: Favorable views of Russia drop following Malaysian airliner crash

Washington (CNN) - Most Americans say Russia is directly or indirectly responsible for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine, and unfavorable opinions of Russia have surged, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey conducted Friday through Sunday also indicates that nearly nine in 10 say that Moscow and pro-Russian rebels that control the area where Flight 17 crashed last week will try to cover something up in any international investigation.

But only one in 10 say the United States should take military action if there is clear evidence that Russia is responsible for the shooting down of the plane, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.

U.S. and other officials have said it appears the plane was shot down by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile. While they have stopped short of putting the responsibility squarely on Russia, President Barack Obama and others have said the rebels could not have acted without weapons and training from Russia.

Release of the poll comes as Obama lashed out at Moscow over conditions at the crash site, saying the rebels continue to impede efforts to recover bodies and investigate exactly what happened.

He called on Russia to rein in the rebel fighters, who he said had treated remains poorly and removed evidence.

"What exactly are they trying to hide?" Obama asked.

According to the poll, just 19% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Russia, down from 41% in February. Fifty-seven percent of the public saw Russia in a positive way in a 2011 CNN/ORC survey.

Seventy-eight percent of those questioned say they have an unfavorable opinion of Russia, a surge of 23 percentage points since February. Only 40% of Americans in the 2011 CNN poll had a negative view of Russia.

"Negative views of Russia are up across the board, but some of the biggest changes come among women and younger Americans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"A bare majority of Americans under the age of 50 had a favorable view of Russia in February, but now that number has dropped 27 points. That may be due to the fact that older Americans are more likely to remember the Cold War and take a less optimistic view of Russia. Positive views of Russia are also down 26 points among women, compared to 18 points among men," Holland added.

Opinion: Vladimir Putin's big blunder

Who's to blame?

Fifty-six percent of the public said it is very likely that rebel groups launched the missile that brought down Flight 17, according to the survey. Another 24% believe that it's somewhat likely and only one in seven think it's unlikely.

Just over a third said Moscow is directly responsible for the disaster, with another 51% saying Russia's indirectly responsible.

"That leaves only 11% who say that Russia had nothing to do with the attack," Holland added.

And only 7% say they trust Russia and the separatist groups in eastern Ukraine to fully cooperate with the international investigation. More than nine in 10 say they think Moscow and the separatists will try to cover something up.

Hours before the poll's release, Obama said it was time for Russia to exert what he called its "enormous influence" over the rebel fighters to persuade them to better cooperate with the international investigation.

"It's the least they can do," Obama added.

A representative for the rebels in Ukraine told CNN that the Boeing 777's "black box" cockpit voice and flight data recorders would be handed over to Malaysian investigators on Monday night.

How should the U.S. respond?

If there is clear evidence that Russia is responsible for the crash, more than seven in 10 said the United States should exert economic or diplomatic sanctions against Moscow, with 19% saying Washington should take no action at all. Only 9% said America should take military action.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. it must be said

    19% favorable of Russia right now??? Well, I guess we now know how many Russian sympathizers and communists we now have in this country. The commies are part of the Democrat Progressive movement.

    July 21, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. just saying

    hmmm... 20% says they are liberal in the usa and 19% favorable towards russia. what a coincidence.

    July 21, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. dalene44

    The corporate media has done it's job for their masters. Congratulations!

    July 21, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Just over a third said Moscow is directly responsible for the disaster, with another 51% saying Russia's indirectly responsible.
    ------------------------
    Most people also think a rocket was fired, and do not fully understand that a sophisticated guided missile was used. Just having the missile is insufficient. You need stuff that the Russians have and the rebels probably do not. You need the radar systems to detect and track potential targets, and the communication systems to relay that targeting data to a remote, mobile missile launcher, and while the missile is in flight. I don't think the rebels are in possession of all of that sort of stuff on their own.

    July 21, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. OBAMA - THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    The only thing that is unbelievable is that 41% of the country had a favorable opinion of Russia in February. I can understand liking their people but Russia is run by that thug Putin who invades other countries, attacks any internal opposition, turns a blind eye to violence against gays, and is a complete megalomaniac.

    July 21, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    -it is EU that needs to kick Russia butts, sorry, USA, we can not afford. We are broke with two wars.

    July 21, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Malory Archer

    it must be said
    19% favorable of Russia right now??? Well, I guess we now know how many Russian sympathizers and communists we now have in this country. The commies are part of the Democrat Progressive movement.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except it was the reds and tp'ers who had a serious crush on "pootie poot" a few months ago, and who were high-fiving one another all over these message threads at their glee with "pootie poot" "sticking it to Obama".

    July 21, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein

    We need to ask ourselves why we work with Russia? The problem is that Russia has a seat on the UN Security Council and has influence on those people that don't like us immediately. If there was a way to get a new president and prime minister in Russia that isn't connected or influenced heavily by Putin, maybe we'd have a chance at not having this problem. That is assuming that they share the same democratic values (rule of law, freedom of press & expression etc.) that we have and try to spread with our culture.

    July 21, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Malory Archer

    just saying
    hmmm... 20% says they are liberal in the usa and 19% favorable towards russia. what a coincidence.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except it was the reds and tp'ers who had a serious crush on "pootie poot" a few months ago, and who were high-fiving one another all over these message threads at their glee with "pootie poot" "sticking it to Obama". You might want to use your "Obamacare" to seek medical help for your amnesia.

    July 21, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. smith

    @Rudy-Im not a moderate, so Im happy that that you have accepted the fact that I am Independent. Have a nice day:)

    July 21, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Democrat Junk

    Gurgyl....This won't take a war. Lets LEAD with some economic hard core sanctions. EU will not move on this UNLESS U.S. leads the charge.

    July 21, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    OBAMA – THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    The only thing that is unbelievable is that 41% of the country had a favorable opinion of Russia in February.
    ------------------------
    What is so unbelievable about it? The right wing was heaping praise on Putin as being a strong leader to no end.

    July 21, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. perennial2

    Russia hasn't had one shred of credibility as a nation – let alone a civilized nation – since 1917. The USSR and Russia = A century of brute drunken peasant barbarians.

    July 21, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    Who's to blame?

    Fifty-six percent of the public said it is very likely that rebel groups launched the missile that brought down Flight 17, according to the survey. Another 24% believe that it's somewhat likely and only one in seven think it's unlikely.
    ----------------

    So this is what it has come down to in American journalism ... eh, CNN? Catastrophic events "blame" polling? I'm sure there is a lesson to be learned here. Indeed. Who needs facts ... government ... or journalists? Simply poll the people who have no known facts to base opinions on, advertise the polls, and go on to the next "event" to be opinion polled. It isn't as if the MSM hasn't spent a few decades telling us what to think as it is.

    July 21, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. morebs

    funny how that quite a few "government leaders" were praising putin not long ago. where are they now?

    July 21, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. realist

    Russia is the good country here. This is all American propaganda.

    July 21, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @it must be said: "19% favorable of Russia right now??? Well, I guess we now know how many Russian sympathizers and communists we now have in this country. The commies are part of the Democrat Progressive movement."

    Really? a right-wing poster here (@joe) said, "I trust Putin much more than I trust Obama!!!!!!"
    Back in March of this year, Steven Seagal praised Putin, called him "brother" and said he is "one of the greatest living world leaders."

    When Putin wrote an op-ed in the New York Times back in September 2013, righties like Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Erik Erickson and Hannity were praising Putin. Buchanan and Ralph Peters were swooning over what a great leader Putin is. Leading up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, a lot of social conservatives were saying Putin was awesome for his anti-gay stance.

    You couldn't turn on fox or listen to RWNJ talk radio without hearing some rightie singing the praises of Vlad.

    So a better guess would be the 19% who still approve of Putin are either on or watching Fox.

    July 21, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Boo

    I have a good friend from Ukraine. I never had a favorable opinion of Russia.

    July 21, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. GovtReform

    Seems to me that the RW has been applauding Der Putin for over a year now. I thought for sure he was going to be the GOP nominee in 2016.
    Funny how they turn against him for lying about the deaths of less than 300 civilians. They never turned on ole Bush, and he killed thousands. Heck.....Cheney is STILL one of the primary leaders. How many thousands of AMERICAN deaths is the black-hearted Cheney responsible for? Heck....he steals hearts from children.

    July 21, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @just saying: "hmmm... 20% says they are liberal in the usa and 19% favorable towards russia. what a coincidence."

    That number hasn't really fluctuated in years; for example, the figure was 20% in 1992. The vast majority of Americans identify as moderate.

    NEXT!

    July 21, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. seppkiwi

    all those 19% who are in favor must be teabag

    July 21, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Joe R.

    Poo-tin was so desperate to make a mark in history. Well, he succeeded – at the cost of innocent lives.

    July 21, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Chris..E.al

    Its sad that the dead are being robed and treated in such a way . I just hope the ones that did this pay hard and die a slow droned out hard death and dont get a chance to see the light . Is that mean ? Yes it is.

    July 21, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Philippe

    They'll never do it, of course, but Russia should be forced to give up Crimea for their role in arming a violent and irresponsible rabble in the Ukraine. If I gave a gun to a known violent offender, I would go to jail. Putin deserves punishment.

    July 21, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. O'drama ya Mama

    Russia has a higher rating than Congress.

    July 21, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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