Americans care about Ukraine – but see international responsibility closer to home

Two in three Americans care – at least a little – about civil unrest in Ukraine and the Russian reaction to those events.  But the latest Economist/YouGov Poll indicates that far fewer want the United States to get involved in the situation there.

Americans are about as likely to say they care a lot about the situation in Ukraine as they are to care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the drug war in Mexico.  They are more personally concerned about Ukraine than they are about two situations involving human rights in China and gay rights in Uganda or about what is happening in the Middle East in Syria and Egypt.

Men express more concern about the Mexican drug war, as well as the situation in Ukraine.  Democrats and Republicans differ dramatically when it comes to gay rights: nearly half of Democrats say they care about gay rights in Uganda at least a little; just 17% of Republicans do.  Democrats are more than four times as likely as Republicans to say they care “a lot.”

On most other items, including those about Ukraine, the level of concern is bi-partisan.  Nearly all of those paying close attention to the news about Ukraine say they care a lot what happens; so do a majority of those following events somewhat closely.

Should the U.S. government get involved?

There is also little partisan disagreement on how to handle the crisis in Ukraine.  Only 20% think the U.S. has a responsibility to get involved in the civil unrest there; just 28% give the U.S. any responsibility for acting in response to Russian actions. 

As has been the case historically in many polls when it comes to what could become military action, men are more willing than women to think U.S. should act.  35% of men, compared with just 21% of women, think the U.S. should get involved.  Republicans are no different from Democrats to think there should be a U.S. response to a Russian incursion.

But there is also little interest in getting involved in Syria or Egypt, or when it comes to gay rights in Uganda or human rights in China.  There is more interest in involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; 38% say the U.S. should get involved somehow. But more still think the U.S. should not.

There is especial interest in a U.S. involvement in the Mexican drug war – but that is a problem much closer to home, and one whose violence sometimes crosses the U.S.-Mexican border.  Half think this is something the U.S. should be involved in, with men again more likely than women to say yes.   Hispanics are particularly concerned: 59% of them want U.S. involvement.    

Even those paying close attention to the Ukraine situation don’t necessarily think the United States should get involved in the civil unrest in Ukraine.  But for many of them, Russian involvement requires a response.  Half of those closely following the crisis want the U.S. involved some way in response to Russian actions.  Those paying little or no attention overwhelmingly don’t see it that way. 

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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