Monday, August 27, 2018

Americans on Russia - The Will of the People

The mainstream media in the West would have us believe that there is absolutely no reason to encourage a diplomatic approach to Russia and that Washington's sabre-rattling over Russia's alleged meddling in both Ukraine and the 2016 presidential election is universally backed by Main Street America.  In fact, this could not be further from the truth as you will see in this posting.

A recent poll by Gallup which was conducted between August 1 and August 12, 2018 randomly sampled 1024 adults over the age of 18 living in all 50 states.  Pollsters asked the following Russia-related questions and received the following responses:

1.) How closely have you been following the news about Russia and the 2016 U.S. presidential election – very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all?

Very closely - 33 percent
Somewhat closely - 34 percent
Not too closely - 18 percent
Not at all - 14 percent

The 67 percent of Americans that are closely following the news about Russia and the 2016 U.S. election is only slightly higher than the average 60 percent level of attention paid to more than 200 news stories since 1991 that Gallup has asked about

2.) Which comes closer to your view about Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election –

a.) Russians did not interfere in the 2016 election, Russians interfered in the 2016 election, but their actions did not change the outcome of the election

b.) Russians interfered in the 2016 election and their actions changed the outcome of the election?

Did not interfere - 16 percent
Interfered but did not change the outcome - 36 percent
Interfered and changed the outcome - 39 percent
No opinion - 9 percent

When broken down by political affiliation, the findings of the poll are not terribly surprising as you can see here: 

Obviously, those Americans who preferred Hillary Clinton as president overwhelmingly believe that Russian interference in the 2016 election led to Ms. Clinton's defeat.  On the other hand, more than half of Republicans do believe that Russia interfered with the election, however, their interference had no material impact on the final result. 

3.) In your view, is it more important that the United States take strong diplomatic and economic steps against Russia, or is it more important that the U.S. continue efforts to improve relations with Russia?

Take strong diplomatic and economic steps against Russia - 36 percent
Continue to improve relations with Russia - 58 percent
Both equally - 4 percent
No opinion - 3 percent

If we look at another poll by Gallup from mid-August 2018, we find that only 35 percent of Americans approve of Donald Trump's handling of relations with Russia compared to 61 percent who disapprove, down from 37 percent approval in February 2018.  This compares to Trump's 38 percent approval rating for handling foreign affairs, an approval rating that is not substantially worse than Ronald Reagan at 44 percent and Barack Obama and 45 percent.  When broken down by party affiliation, 74 percent of Republicans approve of Donald Trump's handling of Russia compared to only 7 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Independents. 

As we can see from the data in this posting, Americans do not overwhelmingly approve of taking a hard-line against Vladimir Putin and Russia.  Less than 40 percent of Americans believe that Russia's interference in the 2016 election made a difference to the final outcome and nearly six in ten Americans believe that it is important that Washington continue to improve relations with Moscow.  The results of this poll strongly suggests that the "anti-Russia at any and all costs" narrative promoted by America's mainstream media does not reflect the "will of the people", a result that is not terribly surprising given the growing political polarization in this post-truth era.

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