As Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week, thousands of Ukranians who were permitted to leave the country fled to the border into neighboring nations. The United Nations estimates that up to four million people could try to escape Ukraine as the war continues.
The latest Economist/YouGov Poll — conducted after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began and before President Biden’s State of the Union message — shows that 51% of Americans say that the U.S. should accept refugees fleeing violence in Ukraine, while just 24% say the U.S. should not accept them. (That compares to 76% of British adults who support the U.K. taking in refugees from Ukraine, and 11% who oppose.) Democrats (65%) are more likely than Independents (51%) and Republicans (41%) to say the U.S. should welcome Ukrainian refugees.
Americans are more likely now than they were around a month ago to say that the U.S. has a special responsibility to provide humanitarian assistance when people in other countries need help. In late January, 45% of Americans agreed that the U.S. has a special responsibility to provide humanitarian assistance, while 33% disagreed — a 12-point gap. Now, almost twice as many Americans agree (53%) as disagree (28%) that the U.S. has a special responsibility to provide humanitarian aid.
Americans are more supportive of accepting refugees fleeing violence in Ukraine than they were of refugees fleeing violence in Afghanistan in September 2021, after U.S. troops left the country and the Taliban gained control. At that time, Americans favored offering asylum to civilians fleeing violence in Afghanistan by 42% to 27% — compared to a margin of 51% to 24% support this week for accepting refugees from Ukraine.
The questions were asked slightly differently: In September 2021, the poll asked, “Do you think the United States should or should not offer asylum to civilians fleeing violence in Afghanistan?” Last week, the poll asked: “Do you think the United States should or should not accept refugees fleeing violence in Ukraine?”
A greater share of Republicans support accepting people feeling violence in Ukraine now than did last year for people fleeing Afghanistan (41% vs. 26%).
-Taylor Orth contributed to this article
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between February 26 and March 1, 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.