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. truth squad

    Now THIS is why you come to CNN.

    Obama has nothing but bad news; Democrats are running away from him and Obamacare in red states, swing states.

    His approval ratings are down, in some polls below 40%.

    Now when Bush was around 40% CNN did HOURLY news updates letting everyone know how bad he was doing.

    So, of course one would expect equal treatment for Obama, but NO, CNN is more interested in spiking the bad news and only reporting when there is good poll info to report and putting that on the front page.

    March 10, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. obawendon

    Congress should get about a zero in their actions. They are the reason we are where we are not the President. He can only do so much without help from Congress. On Russia, Obama is being careful which is the right approach. This is a dangerous situation, no need to rush things. Slow and sure is the way to go and he has it right. I hope this next election people vote smart and not lazy.

    March 10, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. someguy

    so the polling indicates that only sanvctions are supported by america . no ground troops or economic aid to the ukraine . to bad obama already gave them a billion dollars that could have a feed some starving kids in detroit for a life time . well maybe they will take this into consideration when they talk about this from here on out

    March 10, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Silence DoGood

    How dare he invade another sovereign country on false pretenses and then lie about it.
    Well I guess if it was OK for Bush to do.......

    March 10, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Silence DoGood

    Conservative talking heads: Obama is a weak do-nothing leader. Oh and a controlling savvy dictator too.

    March 10, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. Danlien

    I say only punish the corrupt oligarchs who created this mess and Putin, not the Russian people who just want to work and live their lives in peace like the rest of us. We should shoot Putin with one of those pain beams I've been hearing about.

    March 10, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    God forbid we EVER use a poll to make decisions re: war.

    March 10, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel


    Another totally biased poll, showing ridiculous numbers, by CNN. No wonder your ratings are in the basement.

    March 10, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Fair is Fair


    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?
    Look up statistical sampling and report back to the class with your findings.

    March 10, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Kelly

    Why are we polling a country that can't find Ukraine on a map, let alone Crimea? What sanctions against Russia? Freeze one of Putin's bank accounts? Stop him from visiting one his mansions in France? That's the worst you're gonna do, considering how much money Wall Street makes in Russia nowadays.

    March 10, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. sonny chapman

    Sanity in America. can't say the same about Repubs.

    March 10, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. NewIdeas

    Sanctions against Russia will drive up energy prices around the world. And that always has a bad effect on the U.S. economy and jobs.

    March 10, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Virginia

    The margin of error is +/-3.5%. So a poll at 52%-46% could be really 45%-53%? Or “six in 10 older Americans [60%?] support sanctions, but 55%” do not, but seems de minis in this poll. The statistical sample seems bogus.

    March 10, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |

    Russia will prob have Turkey one thanksgiveing day and Syria for a breakfast snack ? Thats right .

    March 10, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Honestee

    Once again gullible Americans being persuaded by the 1% media reports. If you directly benefit from the 1 Billion being invested in Ukraine, If you are a large Corporation (persons now) that will benefit from going to war with this region raise your hand. If you are not raising your hand what the hell are you upset about?

    March 10, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. wendel

    congress is the cause of the low approval ratings . They will do nothing to help the economy or the American people. When we should all be united backing the president these clowns are bashing and undermining his ideas, while having none of their own. vote these weasels out of office and find some people that want to move this country and the economy forward.

    March 10, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rudy NYC

    I love the people who disapprove of Pres. Obama's handling of Crimea, but they cannot tell you what they would do differently.
    Any solution to any problem that does not involve a tax cut for the wealthy bores them, Rudy. They have no answers because they've never bothered to ask any questions that have not been pre-screened by NewsCorp.

    March 10, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Al-NY,NY

    Joe M.

    In other news...73% of Americans didn't know there was a country named Ukraine prior to this episode and 92% couldn't point it out on a map.

    and when Russia invaded Georgia during Duh Duh Duh-bya's reign of error, the dumb righty war-mongers said "how could they invade US soil like that? Atlanta better get ready"

    March 10, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Silence DoGood

    @Fair is Fair

    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?
    Look up statistical sampling and report back to the class with your findings.
    After the Radical Religious Right takes Biology out of the classroom, maybe we should take Math out too. Surely that will make America smarter.
    Or NOT.

    March 10, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. so much for honesty

    The only ones against sanctions are those so called true American conservatives that are against our sitting president, how sad they call themselves Americans, they need to move to Russia and live under a true Communist government.

    March 10, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |

    Russia will prob have Turkey one thanksgiveing day and Syria for a breakfast snack ? Thats right . And i dont care they all hate us anyway and if they n0t trying t0 kill us they stay busy bombing each other ! We sh0uld give isreal all they need and help them where we can ! And drill 0il and sell t0 the world ! Middle east oil is going a be in short supply soon .

    March 10, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. Areyoua1percenter

    Some of the war mongering that goes on in American is saddening. Did you all see what happened to our 3 trillion dollar surplus when President George "Cheated to get into college" Bush decided to invade Iraq? Not to mention he found 0 WMDs and no Osama Bin Laden. Now, Alqueda is a different opponent than Russia. Russia is an established country and world contributer, we don't want that kind of war. I don't see why America and NATO won't compel China to use their limitless army to come in and keep Russia out? Why is it always ONLY America with enough interest in the rest of the world to be responsible for keeping things civil? China owns half the world, including America, shouldn't they be equally as interested in civil resolutions?

    March 10, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Sniffit

    Let's turn to everyone's favorite chickehawk to help everyone understand the GOP/Teatrolls' positions here:

    McCain 2014: "They have been near delusional in thinking the Cold War was over."

    McCain 2008: "The Cold War is over, the Soviet empire is gone and neither one is missed."

    Any questions?.

    March 10, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  24. EdL

    We are pretty good at 'punishing' other countries. Sanctions have sometimes worked after long periods of time, hard to tell now if Russia gives a hoot, hopefully they will not retaliate. Our record is not greatly great, we have been punishing little Cuba for over 50 years, we criticize their leader/s for not having a booming economy, so our 50 year punishment has been at least partially successful.

    March 10, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. willy

    we have to practice being the world police

    March 10, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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