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Will Biden Get a Bump From Putin?

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Floyd Ciruli

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Sudden increases in presidential approval from international events have become more muted and rarer recently due to the U.S.’s polarized politics. The last major jump in presidential approval was for George W. Bush in 2001 after 9-11 (34-point bump). President Obama’s bump was very modest and short-lived in 2011 after Osama bin Laden was killed (May 2) (6-point bump).

Could President Joe Biden benefit from a rally effect? His approval has been at or below 40 percent for weeks. Any bump would be welcomed by Democrats. There are a couple of reasons a bump could be possible.

  • Sympathy for Ukraine and president Zelensky has surged. Republicans moved the most with independent voters toward seeing Russia as a threat and President Putin as a bad person.
  • Biden’s performance has been judged, if not inspiring, as steady and the right tone for the stakes and the risk. He advocated alliances and international cooperation from his State of the Union address and the sanctions have been forceful
  • Europe, recently passive, has come alive to the threat and united in helping Ukraine beyond even optimistic expectations. Biden gets some credit for that.

I told Ron Brownstein before the State of the Union that the contrast with Donald Trump’s pro-Russian statements and Vladimir Putin becoming the face of a cruel dictator could benefit Biden.

Floyd Ciruli, the director of the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, says the global outrage over Putin’s invasion has triggered a “wave” of support for nations linking arms to support democracy and resist aggression. “At any of these moments in national tragedies or threats, you need the whole wave moving in the right direction” to lift a president, Ciruli told me. “This is a very tough time; we are very polarized, and there is obviously going to be criticism from Republicans. But nonetheless I do think he has a wave, and if he can ride it well in the next few days, it benefits him.”

President Biden delivers his State of the Union address on March 1, 2022 as Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi listen | CBS NEWS