Americans are gaining confidence in Ukraine’s chances to defeat Russia and remain independent

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
March 24, 2022, 4:03 PM GMT+0

The latest Economist/YouGov poll finds increased American confidence in Ukraine’s chances of withstanding Russia’s invasion while keeping its independence and leadership intact.

While more Americans say Russia is winning than say Ukraine, the gap has been narrowing, with about half of Americans either unsure or saying neither country is winning.

Slightly more Americans think it is more likely that, in a year’s time, Ukraine will be an independent nation than that it will be under Russian control, than the share who think the reverse. Just two weeks earlier, far more Americans thought Russian control of Ukraine in a year was more likely than sustained Ukrainian independence.

Americans’ one-year outlook for Volodymyr Zelensky’s presidency of Ukraine also has grown more optimistic: More people say he will be president in a year than don’t, while opinion was split two weeks earlier. At the same time, belief that Vladimir Putin will be president of Russia in a year has declined, and is now roughly at the same level as it is for Zelensky.

However the war ends, few expect it to end soon. Just 14% of Americans expect the Russian invasion of Ukraine will end within two months, while 24% expect it to last at least six months; 41% are unsure.

With most Americans anticipating a lengthy conflict, there are signs that the extent of interest in the war, support for Ukraine, and concern about Russia have peaked. While support for Ukraine and opposition to Russia remain strong and widespread, the share of Americans who hold these views have started leveling out or declining modestly. This can be seen on opinions across many topics, including:

  • Whether Ukraine is an ally of the U.S. or Russia an enemy of the U.S.
  • Holding favorable views toward Zelensky and Putin
  • Welcoming refugees from Ukraine
  • Viewing Russia as an “immediate and serious” threat to the U.S.
  • Whether what happens in Russia and Ukraine affects the U.S.

Approval for Biden ticked up modestly from a week earlier on a few metrics reflecting his handling of the Russia-Ukraine conflict: the share of Americans approving of Biden’s handling of:

  • his job overall
  • foreign policy
  • the Russia-Ukraine conflict

While the trends are positive from a week earlier, the overall picture for Biden is negative: On each measure either fewer or the same share of Americans approve than disapprove of Biden.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between March 19 - 22, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty