More Americans support than oppose the U.S. military’s partnership with SpaceX

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
September 21, 2023, 5:29 PM GMT+0

New polling by the Economist/YouGov finds that while people in the U.S. are somewhat optimistic about Ukraine's chances of success in its war against Russia, a growing share of Americans anticipate Russia President Vladimir Putin will remain in power for at least the next year. Most Americans are in favor of the U.S. supplying Ukraine with military aid. And while there are mixed opinions on Elon Musk, more Americans support his company SpaceX's partnership with the U.S. military regarding Ukraine than oppose it.

More Americans continue to view Ukraine as currently winning the war against Russia than think Russia is winning, but there is more division about the war's outcome. More than twice as many believe Ukraine is winning (39%) as believe Russia is (17%). But that 22-point margin drops to 5 points when Americans are asked who will eventually win. Just 28% think Ukraine will emerge victorious, while 23% say Russia will.

Part of this gap in perceptions may be due to a growing belief that Putin is likely to remain in power for at least another year. As many now think Putin will be in power in a year (49%) as say Ukraine President Vlodymyr Zelensky will be (49%), the first time that Putin has polled as highly on this question as Zelensky has since the very early days after the invasion. At that time fewer than half of Americans said each man would remain in power in a year — and each one still is, a year and a half later.

The parties divide on the war: Just 11% of Democrats now want the U.S. to decrease its military aid to Ukraine, compared to 50% of Republicans. Some Republicans may think aid is futile: Republicans are more likely than Democrats to think both that Russia will eventually come out on top and that Russia currently is winning. Overall, 30% of Americans want military aid decreased, 25% want it increased, and 27% want it to stay the same.

Americans generally are supportive of the U.S. military’s partnership with SpaceX and the military funding for Starlink internet services for Ukraine: 37% strongly or somewhat support it while 24% strongly or somewhat oppose it. But as for Musk’s involvement as SpaceX CEO, Americans are not so sure. Opinions of Musk overall are split — 43% are very or somewhat favorable, 45% are very or somewhat unfavorable — and also partisan. Democrats are much less likely to have favorable (23%) views of Musk than unfavorable ones (67%). Republicans are about three times as likely to have favorable opinions of him (68%) as unfavorable ones (21%).

About half of Americans (53%) have heard about Musk allegedly interfering with a Ukrainian military operation by limiting access to the Starlink satellite network. As for whether Musk and his companies have helped or hurt Ukraine's war efforts, 19% say he and his companies have helped at least a little, while 23% say he and his companies have hurt at least a little; 12% see no effect and 46% are unsure.

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on September 17 - 19, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty