Washington

Ukraine Crisis Hasn’t Brought an Approval Boost for Biden

Voters remain divided on his approach to the conflict and on the question of whether it would be happening with Trump in the White House

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks about Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 24. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Voters in the United States are split over President Joe Biden’s handling of the Ukraine crisis and the West’s unified approach hasn’t provided a popularity bounce at home, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey, with most Democrats and Republicans also in disagreement about whether things would be going differently if his predecessor were still in the White House.

What voters say about Biden
  • Forty-two percent of voters approve of Biden’s handling of the Ukraine crisis, up slightly from a survey conducted ahead of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, while 45 percent disapprove. 
  • Three in four Democrats approve and 78 percent of Republicans disapprove of Biden’s handling. 
  • The president’s overall job approval rating fell since a Feb. 19-21 survey, from 45 to 41 percent, with the share who disapprove increasing from 53 to 56 percent. The figures match his worst ever showing, which came back in late January.
The context

The domestic political impact of a crisis in Eastern Europe without direct American military engagement is tough to gauge, but voters have started to pay attention. In the latest survey, 65 percent of voters said they had either seen, read or heard “a lot” about Russia’s invasion — a level of salience that tops the most-noticed news event of last year.

Voters have been less attuned to Biden’s actions, with 37 percent saying they had heard a lot about the imposition of sanctions and economic penalties against Russia by the United States and other world powers. Even fewer (18 percent) said they had heard a lot about Biden’s Feb. 24 speech on the invasion — roughly matching the awareness about former President Donald Trump’s claims that Russia would not have breached its neighbor’s border if he were still president.

Trump’s attacks against Biden, which were coupled with his framing of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as “genius,” put him at odds with many voters.

What voters say about Trump
  • Forty-five percent of voters said Russia still would have invaded Ukraine if Trump were in office, compared with 43 percent who said it would not have happened. 
  • The vast majority of voters (87 percent) said Putin should not be praised for his role in the conflict, including similar shares of Democrats and Republicans.
  • More than 4 in 5 voters disapprove of Putin’s handling of the conflict, including 85 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of Republicans. Meanwhile, two-thirds of voters approve of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s handling of the situation, with Democrats and Republicans once again in agreement.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted Feb. 25-27, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,004 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. 

Morning Consult