Americans see China as the biggest threat to the United States, not Russia

June 17, 2021, 6:23 PM UTC

During President Joe Biden’s recent trip overseas, he faced Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, just 13% of the American public has a favorable opinion of the Russian leader, while more than five times as many (69%) are unfavorable.

But Russia is not seen as the U.S.’s greatest threat. That would be China. Twice as many Americans see China as the greater threat (44%) to American interests than Russia (20%). Americans also have a negative view of the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, though he is less well-known than Putin. Half of Americans (48%) a negative view of him, while 6% have a positive view. More than two in five (46%) do not know who he is. 

One in 10 Americans (10%) see North Korea as the most significant threat. Democrats are slightly more concerned about Russia: 35% of Democrats name Russia, while 29% cite China. Republicans (66%) and Independents (51%) overwhelmingly say China is the greater threat. 

There are increased doubts about the president’s ability to handle an international crisis. In this week’s poll, 38% are confident in his ability in an international crisis, while 45% are uneasy. Last week, opinion was more evenly divided, with 41% confident in President Biden’s ability to handle an international crisis, 42% uneasy about him.  

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 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 13 - 15, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.0% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty