Americans are watching the war in Ukraine closely and most don’t like how the US is responding.
a new NPR/Ipsos Poll finds that most Americans think that President Biden has not done a good job in his handling of the war. Many say the president has been too cautious, even as most say he is wary of sparking a broader conflict.
“The American people support Ukraine, up to a point,” said Chris Jackson, a senior vice president at Ipsos, which conducted the survey.
More than 6 in 10 Americans want the US to give Ukraine some of the support it wants, while trying to avoid a larger military conflict with Russia. Fewer than 2 in 10 say the United States should give Ukraine everything it wants, even if it risks a broader war.
Those responses were remarkably consistent across the political spectrum with strong majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents all agreeing. But when Americans are asked to evaluate President Biden’s performance, that bipartisan consensus falls apart.
“What he’s doing is fundamentally what the American people want,” Jackson said. “But even if Biden is doing everything that people want to do, he’s not going to get a lot of credit for it.”
Disapproval is highest among Republicans
Overall, only 36% of Americans say that Biden is doing a good job responding to the war in Ukraine, while 52% say he is not. That disapproval is largely driven by the GOP: 81% of Republicans rated Biden’s response as fair or poor. On the other hand, 62% of Democrats rated the president’s response as good or excellent.
And 45% of those surveyed say that President Biden has been too cautious in supporting Ukraine. Only 7% think the US should be doing less in Ukraine, compared to 39% who think it should be doing more.
The poll was conducted March 18-21, before Biden traveled to europe to meet with NATO allies in an emergency session on the war in Ukraine.
Most Americans say they are paying close attention to Ukraine. More than 90% of the respondents correctly answered that Russia invaded Ukraine and not the other way around. And more than 80% know that the United States has imposed economic sanctions in response.
It seems that Russian disinformation campaigns have mostly failed to influence large numbers of Americans. For example, only 2% of those surveyed believe that the false claim that Ukraine is ruled by Nazis.
However, another Russian conspiracy theory has gained some traction. One in 10 respondents believes that the US operates biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine. Only 33% of respondents correctly identified that statement as false, while more than half say they don’t know.
There is broad support for Ukrainian refugees
The poll found bipartisan support for accepting Ukrainian refugees.
Nearly 3 in 4 Americans say the United States should take in Ukrainian civilians fleeing war in their country. That includes two-thirds of Republicans, who tend to be more skeptical of refugees and asylum seekers.
The survey was conducted before the Biden administration announced that the US will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and other displaced people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Support for Ukrainian refugees did not necessarily extend to other groups seeking protection in the US. When asked if the US should admit Russians who express opposition to their government, only 62% of Americans He agreed. That was similar to the number supporting the admission of people fleeing violence in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Syria and Central America.
Inflation tops list of concerns
Despite all the attention on Ukraine, the crisis is not a big concern for most Americans.
His biggest concern, by far, is inflation. In our survey, 40% of Americans, including 60% of Republicans, say “inflation or rising costs” is their number one concern. Political extremism, crime and climate change also ranked high on the list.
The survey suggests that inflation is overshadowing more positive news about the economy. Less than half of Americans think the unemployment rate is lower than it was a year ago (is), and only 40% say wages are rising faster than they have in more than a decade (they are).
But Americans are well aware of rising costs: 94% say the cost of food, gas, and housing increased in the past year.
Nearly half of those surveyed say they have stopped driving long distances or made other changes due to rising costs.
That includes Linda Kelly, a Republican from Topeka, Kansas, who participated in the poll. Kelly says she has limited her trips to Kansas City, about a 45-minute drive, and she is buying less meat because prices are high.
“I didn’t get any raise or anything like that,” Kelly said in a follow-up interview. “My employer didn’t offer us any fringe benefits to stay. And yet all these other things are going up, up, up. So in the long run, I took a pay cut. So I think the economy right now sucks.” “.
Blame for Inflation Splits Along Partisan Lines
When it comes to blaming inflation, responses tend to split along partisan lines. Democrats point to a wide range of factors, including the war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There were international and national events that just collided,” Colleen Holland, a Democratic voter from Arlington, Virginia, said in a follow-up interview. “You know, with Ukraine and Russia and, you know, the pandemic. But I don’t blame the current administration.”
For Republicans, the calculation is simpler: 2 in 3 say President Biden is primarily responsible for rising food and gasoline costs.