USA

Poll: Most Americans want Biden to take tough stand with Putin

Most Americans want President Biden to take a tough stance in dealing with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, rather than a cooperative approach, at their upcoming summit, as majorities believe Russia is using cyberattacks against the U.S. and trying to influence our country's politics and elections. Russia-linked cyberattacks are specifically the issue Americans most want Mr. Biden to address with Putin. 

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A majority of Democrats want the president to take a tough stand against Putin, as do most Republicans. 

Most Republicans and Democrats alike believe Russia is taking some provocative actions, like engaging in  cyberattacks, trying to influence U.S. elections and politics, and trying to undermine the NATO alliance in Europe. Those who think Russia is taking these kinds of actions are especially likely to describe Russia as unfriendly or an enemy to the U.S. Most also do not think Russia is trying to cooperate with the U.S. on world affairs.

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When asked to choose the most important issue for Mr. Biden to address with Putin, Russia-linked cyberattacks are at the top, ahead of other issues, like the military and political pressure Russia is exerting on its neighbors, Russian interference in U.S. elections, its nuclear weapons program and human rights record. 

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Heading into the summit, the American public's views of Putin are decidedly negative.  These views extend across demographic, ideological and political groups. Liberals are especially likely to express an unfavorable view, with three-quarters doing so, even more than moderates and conservatives do. 

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Most Americans view Russia as unfriendly or an enemy to the U.S., including majorities of both Republicans and Democrats. Majorities of all partisan groups think Russia tries to influence U.S. elections, and Democrats are especially likely to think so. (Back in 2018, during the Trump presidency, Republicans tended to like how then-President Trump handled Russia, and there were also relatively more Republicans who perceived Russia as friendly to the U.S. than there are today.) 

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In evaluating Mr. Biden's approach to Russia so far, partisanship shapes public views, as it has for many recent presidents. Today, Democrats think the president is taking the right approach, while Republicans (who have largely disapproved of Mr. Biden's presidency in general) are also critical of the way he is handling Russia. Just one in five Republicans think his approach is about right. 

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More on views of Russia

Beyond views of presidential handling, opinions of Russia's relationship to the U.S. are less related to partisanship. Age is more of a factor: Older Americans, those who are 65 and over, regardless of political party, are more inclined to see Russia as unfriendly or an enemy, compared to those who are younger. Perhaps having lived through more of the Cold War has shaped their views.

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Looking more closely at the roughly one-third of Americans who do view Russia as an ally or friendly, most of them cite as reasons that "the U.S. should just try to get along with them," and they say they believe "Russia is a strong country." Republicans and Trump voters who consider Russia to be friendly or an ally also cite that "President Trump wanted to get along with Russia" as among their reasons why. 

This CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,073 U.S. adult residents interviewed between June 11-14, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on  the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2020 Presidential vote. The margin of error is ± 2.6 points.

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