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UMD Poll: Americans Ready to Accept Some Costs of Supporting Ukraine

Respondents Strongly Oppose Sending U.S. Troops to War Zone

By Rachael Grahame ’17

Gas price display in California

Gas prices hit stratospheric levels last week in Monterey Park, Calif. Most respondents in a new UMD Critical Issues Poll say they were willing to accept higher inflation and energy prices as a cost of supporting Ukraine as it resists an invasion by Russia.

Kirby Lee via AP

Eight in 10 Americans say it’s “very important” that Ukraine remains an independent country, and would accept increases in energy and inflation costs resulting from the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion—but they are not prepared to risk American lives, finds a new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll.

Two-thirds of Americans, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans, oppose sending troops to Ukraine alongside NATO allies. At the same time, Americans back other measures to help end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including enforcing a no-fly zone, which 56% of those surveyed would support if the war persists.

Another 56% of respondents agreed on accepting a small to moderate number of refugees, while 83% approved of supplying Ukraine with military equipment and 89% wanted to continue to impose tough sanctions on Russia.

This support indicated in the survey, conducted online March 16-28 with a representative sample of 1,320 Americans, comes despite significant concern about a U.S.-Russian confrontation; 89% of Americans saying they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about a military confrontation, and 82% about a nuclear confrontation.

“While almost all Americans—98%—blame Russia for the conflict and few blame Ukraine, most Americans are reluctant to call Russia an ‘enemy,’ seeing it more as a ‘unfriendly country,’” said Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development who directs the poll alongside Department of Government and Politics colleague Stella Rouse.

Americans across the spectrum appear to be skeptical about the U.S. government messaging surrounding the war; although it’s been partly focused on defending democracy around the world, only 28% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans agree that democracy in the U.S. is now a good example for other countries to follow.

“It’s notable that there is considerable unity among Americans across the political divide—except on issues that directly affect electoral American politics,” said Telhami.

In other results, there was a near-even split among respondents over whether the U.S. should lead an international response. Far more Americans view the U.S. response favorably (49%) than unfavorably (31%). Twenty percent expressed neither favorable nor unfavorable opinions.

In addition, highly partisan attitudes have driven increasing negative views of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Four in 10 Americans say they have more negative views of Biden, including 80% of Republicans, and another four in 10 Americans say they now have more negative views of Trump, including 72% of Democrats.

Read the full questionnaire. Additional takeaways can be found in this Brookings article.

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