Last month, American basketball player Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in the airport. While Griner was arrested on February 17, news outlets in the U.S. reported her detention several weeks later.
A new YouGov U.S. News Poll, conducted March 9 - 13, indicates that most Americans have heard something (62%) about Griner being detained in Russia on drug charges, though few have say they have heard a lot (14%). Black Americans (30%) are twice as likely as Americans overall to have heard a lot about Griner, who is Black.
Some experts speculate that U.S. officials have remained quiet about the case because they are trying to prevent media attention that could make Griner, a U.S. Olympian and Women’s National Basketball Association All-Star who was playing professionally in Russia during the WNBA offseason, more valuable to Russia. Americans who have heard about Griner’s detainment are split on whether increased publicity of her case will make it easier (21%) or harder (23%) for her to be released, while 24% do not think it will make a difference. One-third (32%) are uncertain.
By 46% to 17%, Americans who have heard about Griner’s detention believe she is being held in Russia unfairly. More than one-third (37%) of this group are not sure. Most Americans who are aware of her situation are very or somewhat concerned (58%) about her being held in Russia. Among all Americans, whether or not they have heard about her detention, more Democrats (60%) are concerned than Republicans (38%) and Independents (39%).
One-third of Americans who have heard about Griner’s detainment believe the U.S. government should be doing more to secure Griner’s release from Russia. One-quarter say it is doing the right amount, and 11% want it to do less. One-third are uncertain about whether the government should be taking a more active role or not.
Methodology: This U.S. News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between March 9 - 13, 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 news interest 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 4% for the entire sample.