Many Americans (68%) have an unfavorable opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, Republican defense of President Trump has made what was once an anti-Russian hawkish party the promoters, supporters and apparent defenders of the Russian system of government.
Consider: Just 16% of Americans now see Putin favorably, but there are clearly many more Republicans siding with President Trump, than Democrats.
A quarter of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (25%) said they had a favorable view of Putin overall, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January before the Russian leader’s rigged re-election. Just 9% of Democrats and Democratic “leaners” had a favorable view of Putin. Three-quarters of Democrats (76%), on the other hand, held an unfavorable view of the Russian president, compared with a smaller majority of Republicans (62%).
After the presidential election the Russians hacked, Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to view Russia as a threat – and views have changed little since then. Pew does not express a view on Russian tampering with American Democratic processes.
Republicans’ views of Putin became somewhat more positive between 2015 and 2017 and have changed little since last year. The share of Republicans viewing Putin favorably more than doubled between 2015 and 2017, from 11% to 27%. Conversely, more Democrats viewed Putin unfavorably in 2017 (79%) than did so in 2015 (69%).
Other major opinionated shifts in views of Russia have taken place in recent years. For many years, Republicans and Democrats shared similar views about whether Russia posed a major threat to the United States. As recently as April 2016, 46% of Republicans and 37% of Democrats said “tensions with Russia” were a major threat to U.S. well-being.
When the Russian question was asked in October 2017, there was a 25-percentage-point partisan gap: 63% of Democrats and just 38% of Republicans said they viewed “Russia’s power and influence” as a major threat to the well-being of the U.S. Overall, 52% of Americans saw Russia’s power and influence as a major threat.