Americans’ support for economic sanctions on Russia is broad and bipartisan, according to new polling on the public’s response to the war in Ukraine. And so far, that’s the case even when the potential for higher gas prices is considered. At the same time, the American public largely continues to oppose direct military action on the part of the US.
Below, here are some of the main takeaways from five recent released surveys of US adults, conducted between March 7-14.
Americans are largely united in condemning Russia’s actions. Just 7% in a Monmouth University poll say that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are justified, with a comparably low 10% of Republicans and 7% of Democrats feeling that way. An 87% majority in an ABC News/Ipsos survey say that Russian President Vladimir Putin bears at least a good amount of blame for the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Support for economic sanctions is robust across these polls, regardless of the precise framing of the questions. And while people aren’t always great at forecasting how they might react to future developments, the surveys find that most Americans so far remain supportive of sanctions even when pollsters highlight their potential to economically impact the US.
In Monmouth’s polling, 81% of Americans support the economic sanctions imposed on Russia, even as 33% say in a separate question that these sanctions are doing a lot to hurt the US economy. In a Pew Research survey, 85% of Americans favor keeping strict economic sanctions on Russia.
That support crosses party lines. In Monmouth’s poll, 75% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats support the sanctions. Pew finds even less of a partisan gap, with 85% of Republican and Republican-leaners in favor, compared with 88% of Democrats and Democratic-leaners.
A CBS News/YouGov poll finds 77% of Americans in favor of sanctions against Russia’s oil and gas exports, with 63% saying they’d support such sanctions even if they lead gas prices to rise. In the ABC/Ipsos poll, 77% say they support the US banning Russian oil imports even if that means higher gas prices in the US.
About half of Americans (52%) say that President Joe Biden’s actions toward Russia so far have not been strong enough, the CBS/YouGov poll finds. Those dissatisfied with the strength of Biden’s response mostly say they’d like to see Biden use tougher economic sanctions and give more weapons and supplies to Ukraine, with few advocating for direct military action against Russia.
US military action
Unlike their views about sanctions, Americans’ opinions on a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine vary considerably depending on how the potential ramifications are described – suggesting that the full implications of the policy aren’t well known to much of the public.
In the CBS/YouGov poll, 59% of Americans initially supported a no-fly zone, but that fell to 38% once it was described as something that could potentially be viewed as an act of war by Russia. A Quinnipiac University poll found that 54% of Americans approve of NATO’s refusal to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine after hearing that such a no-fly zone would lead NATO countries into a war with Russia, with 32% disapproving and another 15% unsure.
There was even more uncertainty in the ABC/Ipsos poll, which found 31% of Americans supportive of a no-fly zone “even if it could mean drawing the U.S. and its allies into direct military conflict with Russia,” with 34% opposed and another 34% saying they didn’t know.
Just 17% of Americans say the US should do whatever it can to help Ukraine, even if it means risking a direct war between the US and Russia, according to the Quinnipiac poll, with three-quarters (75%) saying the US should do whatever it can to help Ukraine without risking direct war. Similarly, 62% in the Pew survey oppose taking military actions that would risk a nuclear conflict with Russia.
President Joe Biden’s ratings on handling the war in Ukraine currently look somewhat stronger than his overall job numbers. He gets net positive ratings on the issue from Pew Research (47% approve, 39% disapprove), closely split ratings from Monmouth (46% approve, 48% disapprove) and ABC/Ipsos (48% approve, 51% disapprove), and negative ratings from CBS/YouGov (46% approve, 54% disapprove) and Quinnipiac (42% approve, 49% disapprove).
Unlike their opinions on policy toward Russia, Americans’ views of Biden’s response to the issue are largely polarized. In Quinnipiac’s survey, 81% of Democrats approve of Biden’s handling of the issue, compared with 40% of independents and just 10% of Republicans. There’s also not much evidence that this situation has yet significantly affected Biden’s overall approval rating, which Pew, Quinnipiac and CBS/YouGov all find remaining relatively stable from their earlier polling.
That lines up with the finding that, although most of the American public is paying considerable attention to the situation, fewer consider it a top domestic issue. Roughly 7 in 10 US adults say they’ve read or heard a lot about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Pew, and about half believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a major threat to US interests. But only 22% of Americans consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to be the most important issue facing the US, the CBS/YouGov poll finds, ranking it slightly behind inflation (26%) and close to the economy and jobs (20%).
The Quinnipiac University poll, conducted March 10-14, surveyed 1,936 US adults with a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.2 percentage points. The Monmouth University poll, conducted March 10-14, surveyed 809 US adults with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The Pew Research poll, conducted March 7-13, surveyed 10,441 US adults with a margin of sampling error of +/- 1.5 percentage points. The ABC News/Ipsos poll, conducted March 11-12, surveyed 622 US adults with a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. The CBS News/YouGov poll, conducted March 8-11, surveyed 2,088 US adults with a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. The Quinnipiac and Monmouth were conducted using live telephone interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones; the Pew Research, ABC/Ipsos and CBS/YouGov polls used nationally representative online panels.