March 10th, 2014
07:36 AM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: 59% approve of sanctions against Russia

Washington (CNN) - Slightly more Americans approve than disapprove of how President Barack Obama has so far handled the crisis in Ukraine, but that has not affected the President's overall job approval rating, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that economic sanctions against Russia appears to be the only option that a majority of Americans support that's available to the U.S. to try and end the crisis in the Ukraine.

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The poll also suggests that the public is worried about the situation in Ukraine, but not overly concerned. And most say that the U.S. would face only minor problems or no problems at all if Ukraine's autonomous Crimean peninsula becomes a part of Russian territory.

Obama on Ukraine

Forty-eight percent of people questioned in the poll say they approve of how the President has so far handled the Ukraine crisis, with 43% giving Obama a thumbs down and 9% unsure.

According to the poll, 43% of the public approves of how Obama is handling his overall job in the White House and 53% disapproves. Obama's approval/disapproval rating stood at 45%-50% a month ago. The President's current approval rating is slightly higher than where it stood in November and December, when his numbers hovered at or near all-time lows in CNN polling (41%) and many other national surveys.

What should U.S. do?


Nearly six in 10 of those questioned say they support economic sanctions against Moscow by the U.S. and its allies in an attempt to force Russia to remove its forces from the Crimean peninsula, and try to prevent Russia from sending forces to other parts of Ukraine. Nearly four in 10 oppose economic sanctions. Last week the Obama administration laid the groundwork for sanctions against Russia.

"All demographic groups support economic sanctions except the youngest Americans.  More than six in 10 older Americans support sanctions, but 55% of Americans under the age of 35 oppose them," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It's possible that generation gap is due to older Americans' memories of the Soviet Union as the chief threat to the U.S.; many younger Americans may have no memory at all of the Cold War and most of those under the age of 25 were not even born when the Soviet Union collapsed."

By a 52%-46% margin, Americans are against economic aid to Ukraine. Nearly six in 10 say no to canceling the G-8 summit meeting between the leaders of Russia, the U.S., and its Western allies. Just over three-quarters oppose sending weapons and other military supplies to Kiev.

"And there's a big 'no' to the U.S. launching either air strikes against Russian troops in the Ukraine or to sending U.S. ground troops to the Ukraine," Holland added. "Only one in eight support sending U.S. ground troops to Ukraine - a pretty good indication that the public would prefer a measured response to a forceful one."

Americans not overly concerned

Philosophically, Americans are not eager to get involved in foreign conflicts.  Only 28% questioned in the poll say that the country's top priority should be making sure that there is peace and stability throughout the world. Nearly seven in ten say the U.S. should emphasize safety and security right here at home.

According to the poll, 42% say they're somewhat concerned about the crisis in Ukraine, but only three in ten say they're very concerned.

"That's roughly the same level of concern that Americans expressed about conflicts in Libya and Syria in past polls," said Holland.

Looking ahead to what may happen next in the region, just 6% say that the U.S. would face a crisis if Crimea becomes part of Russia and only a quarter predict major problems if that happens.  But there is greater concern about Russian escalation, with just over half forecasting a crisis or major problems for the U.S. if Russia sends its forces anywhere else in Ukraine.

The CNN poll was conducted 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

soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. dave

    The EU seems to be the bigger player in this, they have the largest economy, and more trade with Russia. As two 17 trillion dollar economies square off against a 2 trillion dollar economy we just sit back and watch the sparks fly. All are super powers, militarily, with nukes, but they say Putin is not afraid of nukes, only if they come from Ukraine, which doesn't have them. Repeating the cold war, which involved wars in Korea, and Vietnam, as well in other place, plus a huge multi-trillion dollar arms race, seems to be a high priority with those in the defense industry, and those who work for the defense industries, including major media. Saving the military industrial complex seems to be paramount as Hagel threatens to downsize the military, gearing up for peace. Trasitioning from war to peace would be devastating to millions, saving the Country trillions of dollars. One would hope that it would also alter our trade tactics, as well as our energy strategy. If not, it could be that the situation is so minor, it makes no difference to anything.

    March 10, 2014 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  2. amber

    Russia: What is the US going to do about it?

    US: What is Russia going to do about it?

    Anybody notice how anorexic Snowden is looking these days?

    March 10, 2014 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  3. BILL, WI

    The EU and UN should take the lead in resolving this crisis. In fact senior Senate democrats are all ready on record approving this course of action. If only not to upset our European allies the President seems all too likely to follow the Senates plan. Ignore all treaties to the contrary and let Russia strengthen it's southern border.

    March 10, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Only one in eight support sending ground troops to Ukraine. Lindsay and John McCain are not going to be happy that a vast majority of people are rejecting their feckless plan to start WW 3.

    March 10, 2014 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  5. DVDA

    Brainwashed americans (I am just american.) Sanctions against RUSSIA now? Sanctions are an act of WAR you idiots. Enough of the USA power-mongers and their sanctions, we have killed so many in iraq, iran, tortured cuba over political differences.....the arrogance of the top and the ignorance of the bottom would be funny if it didn't dovetail into so much suffering.

    March 10, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  6. Jeff

    59% don't understand the economic impacts of sanctions on Russia. We either need to show force or stay away.

    March 10, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. Seun B

    Polling 801 people doesn't seem to me like an adequate number to get the opinion of over 300 million Americans. I wonder who they really poll when they conduct these things anyway.

    March 10, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The President proves over and over again that when it comes to Foreign Policy, an area where the imbecilic input of elected Republicans does NOT have to be taken into account, he is in his zone and able to perform stellarly.
    Thank God he is our CIC during these turbulent times.

    March 10, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Polls are great aren't they....?

    March 10, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. wotudezerv

    gop slutters are out of touch with reality. most of US agree he is doing what little we can do. gop, go live in yr fantasy world, and take palin, mccain, gingrich, bachmann, paul, cruz, limbaugh, hannity, fox news, with you so the adults can have a real conversation in a dangerous world.

    March 10, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. wotudezerv

    gop out of touch again.

    March 10, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Here's the part that I don't fully understand. It is what started all of this. Why is/was Putin so against Ukraine growing their economic trade with the E.U. in the first place. It's not like they were going to cut off Russia, I don't think. Ukraine was simply looking grow their economy through increased exports. I think their economic ties to Russia would have continued along the same path.

    March 10, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. The RIpper

    Just because sanctions are OK with the people doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

    March 10, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  14. Fair is Fair

    43% approveal, eh? LOL... I knew he'd make a comeback.

    March 10, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  15. Kyle

    I support the sanctions, but what is that really to do in the long run? Obviously were not going to send troops to Russia and remove Putin. He (Putin) knows that and is just sticking his tongue out at us.

    March 10, 2014 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    "Only one in eight support sending U.S. ground troops to Ukraine – a pretty good indication that the public would prefer a measured response to a forceful one."

    the GOP stance.......bomb now, ask questions later..but that doesn't prevent them from blasting Obama on whatever he does

    March 10, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. mike

    Anyone can click a button and vote. Sadly most have no education, experience or wisdom in the subject. So "Most" is mostly a bunch of ignorant surfers.

    March 10, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  18. PercentagesSUCK

    How can you say 59% of Americans approve of sanctions against Russia when you likely never polled even 10% of every American to arrive at that percentage?

    March 10, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. Pete

    Thank God there's not a republican in the White house or our military would be lobbing bombs or missiles against Putins Russian troops in WWIII..Bush,Cheney the murderous duo both had itchy fingers and both would be at each others throats to start a war to make their MIC monies again...And thank God Clinton helped take nucs out of Ukraine or there might of been a nuclear standoff in which no one would win...Against everything republicans have said also thank your lucky stars Pres.Obama is a chess player playing diplomacy over force against that egomainiac in Putin period or we would be at war....

    March 10, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  20. Really GOP?

    The Russians will just wipe themselves with the sanctions. This is about GOP lust for war and killing, a reason to be tough because of Egos. In the mean time, the Russians will keep on their course. If I was Putin, I would do the same. Bush W did NOTHING! WHEN THEY DID A SIMILAR THING AND YOU IMBECILES OF CONSERVATIVES let him off the hook because he is a republican clone. I despise you all, Traitors... Dictators and Tyrants!

    March 10, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  21. Michael McCarthy

    It's funny to listen to McCain et al claim Obama is weak, clearly trying to further weaken him for their own political purposes. The fact is, the US isn't even in a position to criticize the Russians as we started 2 wars in the last 15 years wth sovereign nations who didn't invade us first. It's the height of hypocrisy for the US to act appalled by the Russians actions. Obama knows this and the blame for it can be placed squarely on GW Bush, Dick Cheney and the Repubs.

    March 10, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. phil Bowman

    You are spinning different polls. Obama is out of his league.

    March 10, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. allenwoll

    Putin has clearly "distinguished" (actually, marked is a better word) himself as an utterly egoistic clumsy bumpkin with low leadership skills ! ! - This has given a wonderful opportunity for many silly folk here in the USA and elsewhere to voluntarily join him in that obvious "distinction" - And apparently few so inclined have missed that opportunity..
    Given the history of Crimea, the entire matter could have been handled gracefully over the negotiating table to the satisfaction of virtually all reasonable people.
    If such is NOT the case, what are we missing ? ?

    March 10, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. milenkovic milan

    1. If US intelligence knew 10 days before about Russian’s plan to invade Ukraine (CNN), why they did NOT do what was necessary to prevent Russian FAST occupation ?
    2. Ukraine need $30 – 35 billion by the end of this year to avoid bankruptcy, and EU promise $15 billion during next COUPLE of years ?! For Russia is now enough only to TURN OFF oil & gas, water supply and communications to Ukraine (other than military, Russians the most powerful weapons in Ukraine), and to made disaster to already broken Ukraine economy.
    3.Sanctions toward Iran worked well because Pr. Obama passed it true UN with broader support. It’s a good idea to sell American natural gas to EU , but it will NOT be easy for EU find compromise for Russian’s oil & gas, and do NOT forget that China already UNOFFICALLY supported Russia.
    4.So diplomacy first with USA Navy, troops and F-15 already in that region. Pentagon and NATO should go to Kiev and try to help Pro-Russian-Canada ( Pro-Western part of Ukraine), practically when USA “donate” $190 billion per year to NATO (2012);
    5.Lesson to learn from Ukraine: cooperation between triangle- Intelligence + Military + Diplomacy react TOO LATE in Ukraine?! Crimea will probable separate from Ukraine at the end of this week, in Russian’s effort to “fix historic mistake from 1954”?!

    March 10, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  25. MaryM

    repost: NSA traitor Edward Snowden’s father is being represented by attorney Bruce Fein, who appeared with Senator Rand Paul at his anti-NSA news conference on June 13. Fein says “someone in Senator [Rand] Paul’s office” recommended him to Edward Snowden’s father..."
    Libertarian traitors are working for Putin all along.

    March 10, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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