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U.S. Unity on Russia as Threat. Divisions on NATO.

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Floyd Ciruli

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Even before the invasion of Ukraine, a mid-February (Feb. 17) poll of Americans showed 59 percent rating Russia a critical threat. This was a jump from 44 percent a year ago and a 10-point rise from the 49 percent who rated them a critical threat after the seizure and annexation of the Crimea in 2014-15.

NATO activated the NATO Response Force for collective defense and deterrence, Feb. 2022 | NATO photo

Nearly nine in ten Americans (86%) have an unfavorable view of Russia, up 25 points since 2014. The approbation is bipartisan, with 74 percent of Republicans and independents seeing them negatively and 84 percent of Democrats.

But Gallup reports a partisan difference on both judging NATO as doing a good job and maintaining a commitment to it. In terms of its job performance, 65 percent of Republicans believe it’s doing a poor job whereas 70 percent of Democrats believe it’s doing a good job. The overall public is divided in half, with 48 percent rating its job performance good and 45 percent saying bad.

Although a majority of Americans support the alliance – 65 percent favoring maintaining or increasing the commitment to NATO – even here, there are significant partisan differences. More than two-out-of-ten Republicans would withdraw entirely from NATO and another 28 percent would decrease the U.S. commitment to it (50% total) whereas only 13 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independent are in that category. Eighty-one percent of Democrats would increase the NATO commitment, but only 46 percent of Republicans would do the same.

NATO Commitment table