As Washington increasingly makes Russia its enemy, the pliant American public follows
March 13, 2015 The Cold War ended nearly 25 years ago, but Americans are again feeling frigid when it comes to Russia.
According to a Gallup Poll released Friday, Americans' view of Russia is at its lowest point since 1989, when the company first began tracking the public's favorability toward the Soviet Union.
Only 24 percent of Americans now view Russia favorably—a 10-point dip from 2014. Considering recent tense relations between Washington and Moscow, it's easy to see why. Russia's involvement in Ukraine's civil war—including bolstering pro-Russian troops in the east and south—has soured American's opinion of the country, Gallup's analysis points out.
But another Cold War enemy, Cuba, surged in popularity among Americans in the last year. Although the Obama administration was loudly criticized by some—including several Cuban-American senators on the Hill—for its efforts to normalize relations between Cuba and the U.S. in recent months, Cuba's favorability rating had an 8-point boost this year, which Gallup's analysis attributes to the two countries' recovering relations.
The poll—which sampled 837 U.S. adults aged 18 and older with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points—was conducted over four days in February.
Gallup's analysis indicates, somewhat obviously, that Americans' views on other countries closely track with U.S. foreign policy. According to Friday's poll, up to 92 percent of Americans view strong Western allies like Great Britain and Canada favorably. Countries like Japan and India, with their close economic ties to the U.S., merit high ratings, too. Along with Russia and several other countries, the "very unfavorable" end of the spectrum has Iran and North Korea coming in last—with 11 percent and 9 percent favorability, respectively.
The Cold War remains a cultural and political touchstone for many Americans. Baby boomers lived half their lives knowing the Soviet Union as a geopolitical foe; Russia's unfavorability now must be a familiar feeling to many. And while Americans may be willing to thaw the chill over Cuba as that country slowly opens up to the U.S., Russia doesn't look poised to win over hearts and minds over here in the U.S. anytime soon.
On a practical note, don't expect those Russian tough-guy stereotypes to go away anytime soon.