Poll: Americans say Putin not like Hitler
April 2nd, 2014
03:31 PM ET
6 years ago

Poll: Americans say Putin not like Hitler

(CNN) - The vast majority of Americans say Vladimir Putin's not honest or trustworthy, but according to a new national poll they don't compare the Russian president's actions in Ukraine with the land grabs in the years leading up to World War II by Germany's Adolf Hitler.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday indicates that only 24% of the public equates Putin's annexing last month of neighboring Ukraine's Crimea peninsula with Hitler's actions, with 51% saying that's too strong a comparison. Just over one in five admitted they don't know enough about pre-Second World War history to answer the question.

Early last month in at a fundraiser in Long Beach, California, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared Putin's military intervention in Crimean to Hitler's European aggression ahead of World War II.

"Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the 30s," Clinton said according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, which had a reporter in the room for the closed event.

A day later, after her comments sparked some controversy, Clinton told an audience in nearby Los Angeles that her comments from the previous day were an attempt for "people to have a little historic perspective."

"I'm not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before," said Clinton. "What I said yesterday is that the claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into eastern Ukraine because they had to protect the Russian minorities ... is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland, in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe."

In what has become the biggest East-West confrontation since the Cold War, the United States and European Union imposed visa bans and asset freezes on some of President Putin's closest political and business allies. Russia responded with its own list of sanctions against a number of U.S. lawmakers and officials. And the G7 group of leading industrialized countries condemned both the Crimean vote to secede and Russia's annexation of Crimea, which was an autonomous region of Ukraine with a large pro-Russian population. Moscow was also excluded from what was the G8.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, 80% of Americans say that Putin's not honest and trustworthy. And a third questioned say the Russian president's not mentally stable, with 48% saying he is mentally stable. But a majority (57%) says that Putin has strong leadership qualities.

The poll's release came on the same day that NATO's military chief warned that Russian troops could begin moving on Ukraine within 12 hours of being given an order.

Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander Europe, also told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that with 40,000 troops massed near the border, Russia has all the components necessary to move on Ukraine.

According to the survey, 80% of American voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that the Ukraine crisis could lead to a larger regional conflict with U.S. military involvement.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 26-31, with 1,578 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.


Filed under: Poll • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. John Smith

    only 24% equate the actions to Hitler. And what percentage of the population is still around or had direct experience from WWII? One thing you can bet as humans we will only learn from our mistakes unless something else benefits and then, well all bets are off.

    April 2, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Jimmy G

    Too bad the Western society can not grasp the magnitude and the sofistication MANIPULATION WAREFARE perfected by Russia.

    They inherited the best of the best developed through decades by the communist totalitarian apparatus, a machine which raised manipulation to the rank or science.

    April 2, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Jay

    This proves a majority of America is stupid and brainless

    April 2, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. tidding wright

    The US Administration doesn't like anyone else in the sandbox. History does have a way of repeating itself, ours

    April 2, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "the money is not theirs at that point you idiots. the money is placed into a fiduciary account that is controlled by others for the benefit of the people who own the pension fund. by law it is not company property to be played with and robbed as the government has done with social security. besides, those companies you take issue with also produce other drugs. why are the rabid lefties in here always looking to target and attack businesses? it is all you ever do."

    You just essentially described what happens when a company hands over premium payments to an insurance company. Your attempt to differentiate the two things...companies paying for employee insurance and companies paying for employee retirement plans...is a big fat fail. Ignoring all the contractual relationships and obligations involved as well, which afford opportunities to adjust the parties' duties to each other and the manner in which funds must be treated, etc., is also a big fat fail. Fact: Hobby Lobby is a self-serving bag of hypocritical crap that brought the lawsuit to serve their political interests and the political interests of the GOP/Teatrolls...not because they were actually, honestly objecting on religious grounds.

    April 2, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Rising_Dough

    Agreed- Putin is no Hitler.

    But they do share the similar ambitions, and for that reason, Putin is just as dangerous to world peace.

    April 2, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Len

    But yet many of you (Tea Party) folks called President Obama, Hitler!

    You are unpatriotic and please admit, racists. If you do not like it here please move to Russia.....and you will live in a communist state!!!! You are all morons!

    April 2, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. smith

    @Tampa Tim- What in Kurt`s comment suggests that he likes Putin?

    April 2, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    they are all liars us, ussr, ect

    April 2, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. c

    Not like Hitler, maybe not right now, but guarantee if no one opposes him it will end up that way! How was his KGB days? it wasn't passing out flowers and skittles!

    April 2, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. g

    America should stick to taking out little countries -that,s where the money is .big countries would bankrupt the USA

    April 2, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Dan Bruce

    Putin is not a Hitler yet, but with this latest land grab, he's getting there.

    April 2, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Pink Haze

    Kelly – vile and insensitive, really!! Try telling that to the 11 million people that the Nazi's killed all in the name of protecting the German people. Putin needs to stay out of other countries especially when he was not asked to be there. If the Russian people who live in the Ukraine and Crimea want to live as Russian then they should move to Russia. Let Putin foot the bill and get these people relocated. Putin = Hitler. And if people like you don't open your eyes soon, we will be back in the 30's with some crazy man trying to take over the world. Hey are you okay with being Russian because I am not.

    April 2, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Brandon

    Hitler? More like Napoleon. This guys is a midget.

    April 2, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. NorCalMojo

    Neocons are going to have to learn to choose their battles.

    We're still in the process of surrendering the last wars they started.

    April 2, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @joe: "I trust Putin much more than I trust Obama!!!!!!"

    Then move to Russia, where companies have churches onsite and require employees to attend; where reporters critical of Putin are poisoned; where oligarchs assassinate their enemies; where alcoholism is rampant; and where, according to Forbes, it faces these three significant challenges:

    1. Russia’s economy relies heavily on its energy sector for economic growth, with an extremely tight correlation between oil prices and the country’s GDP.

    2. Russia’s institutional environment ranking 133 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2012–2013, the development of the country’s institutions represents one of its key challenges.

    3. Trust within society and towards institutions and decision-makers is a key indicator of a society’s ability to fully develop its productive potential. On all of these fronts, there are signs Russia faces significant uncertainties.

    So, yeah. go ahead, joe – and don't let the door hit you on the way out!

    April 2, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. A. Schicklgruber

    24% of Americans don't know what Hitler annexed. How could they compare him with Putin?

    April 2, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. bdby

    I am an American. Putin is just acting like Hitler. The Americans that say he isn't like Hitler don't know their history and I suggest they go back to study it.

    April 2, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. bluebyyou666

    No he sure isn't 'like' Hitler. The 'insult' is on the other end, of course. Comparing Hitler to present day leaders is an Insult to Hitler. Putin's cool, and the rest of them, but you all can thank your lucky stars Hitler, isn't around. He wouldn't be 'sitting' around like so called World Leaders. He'd be doing things, very dangerous things without anyone knowing about it... which is very simple to do these days.

    April 2, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. Mike

    This poll would be valid if more people actually knew the history of the German land grabs before WW II. In Czechoslovakia, German speaking sympathizers forced a plebiscite which joined the German speaking portions to Germany. Then, the Anschluss saw the German Military roll in to Austria not only unopposed, but cheered by more sympathizers. When Putin rolls into the Ukraine, the protests of ethnic Ukrainians will be countered by the cheers of ethnic Russians, who will not want to up on Vlad's bad side!

    April 2, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. YoonYoungJo

    Even Hitler wasn't Hitler before he became "Hitler". Doesn't mean he will become Hitler but doesn't mean he won't. That's the funny thing about the future. It is undetermined and is defined by what we do today and tomorrow. But then again Jesus has been preaching that for a long time. There is always room for forgiveness and always a place for human error. This does not mean the US should not prepare for the worst outcome, it should. But if a good outcome does appear, it should be welcome with open arms.

    April 2, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. Paul

    Answer: What is the Sudetenland?

    April 2, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Sarah

    Who doesn't compare it? Everyone I know who knows even a little history is comparing it to the annexation of Austria. Two willing populaces voting to join a stronger nation.

    April 2, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. brit

    Hitlers first (unchallenged) act of aggression was to reoccupy the Ruhr, Germany's main industrial area which they lost after WW1. Retaking The Crimea seems very similar. Putin seems to believe in a Greater Russia which seems to equate to the lebensraum of the third reich.
    So far he has not displayed any inclination towards genocide.
    There are definitely similarities, only time will tell how close these similarities are.

    April 2, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. chiavarm

    Hitler did annex Czechoslovakia to "protect" the German population. then he took the rest of the country. So we will see if Putin follows the same path.
    As to the elections, they were a farce, it would have been better if the vote preceded the annexation. It have also been reported that Crimea and the eastern portion of Ukraine are sympathetic towards Russia so really the annexation was not necessary.
    Russia NEEDS the port facilities in Crimea. That was the impetus. With the Ukraine looking to the West, Putin needed to secure that port.

    April 2, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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