Americans are now more likely to say Ukraine is winning the war, not Russia

Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
September 21, 2022, 10:30 PM GMT+0

More Americans now see the war in Ukraine as Ukraine’s to win than say it's Russia's. Following Ukraine’s recapture of land lost to Russia earlier in the war, Americans have reversed their opinion of how the war is going, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. Now, more see Ukraine as winning than see Russia as winning, and more say Ukraine is likely to win when the conflict is over. In last week’s poll, Ukraine also was viewed as winning by more than said the same about Russia, but Americans were evenly divided on the eventual outcome. 

Perceptions of the futures of the two countries’ leaders are also shifting. Over the past few months, the share who expect Russia President Vladimir Putin to hold his position for the next year has shrunk; 35% say he will still be in power in a year, the lowest percentage since the war began. One in four (25%) say he will not. By 52% to 12%, Americans expect Vlodomyr Zelensky to still be president of Ukraine a year from now. 

More than three in four Americans see Zelensky as a strong leader, though the share who view him as "very strong" has declined 9 percentage points in recent months, to 39% from 48%. Fewer – 25% – view Vladimir Putin as having very strong leadership abilities, though more still view him as strong than weak. However, greater shares of Americans view each of Putin and Zelensky as strong leaders than think of U.S. President Joe Biden that way. Only 14% describe Biden as having very strong leadership abilities.

Americans overwhelmingly sympathize more with Ukraine than with Russia, and nearly all see Russia as on the wrong side of the war. Nearly three-quarters (73%) believe Russian troops are guilty of committing war crimes, and an equal share (73%) believe Russian troops have been deliberately striking civilian areas. Two in five (39%) think it is likely Russia will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine; just as many say it is unlikely. And 43% say the chances of a nuclear war have increased and are greater now than they were five years ago; just 11% say the chances are lower now. More than half (55%) think the chances of a new Cold War have increased; 8% say it has declined. And 59% believe no more than half of Russian people support the war, while only 20% say most or all support it.

– Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on September 17 - 20, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Getty (Omar Marques / Stringer)