Ukraine aid support softens in the US: AP-NORC Poll


 February 15, 2023

in Featured, Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Support among the American public for providing Ukraine weaponry and direct economic assistance has softened as the Russian invasionnears a grim one-year milestone, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Forty-eight percent say they favor the U.S. providing weapons to Ukraine, with 29% opposed and 22% saying they’re neither in favor nor opposed. In May 2022, less than three months into the war, 60% of U.S. adults said they were in favor of sending Ukraine weapons.

Americans are about evenly divided on sending government funds directly to Ukraine, with 37% in favor and 38% opposed, with 23% saying neither. The signs of diminished support for Ukraine come as President Joe Biden is set to travel to Poland next week to mark the first anniversary of the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II.

“I am sympathetic for Ukraine’s situation and I feel badly for them, but I feel like we need to first take care of priorities here at home,” said Joe Hernandez, 44, of Rocklin, California.

Hernandez, a Republican, added that it’s difficult to support generous U.S. spending on military and economic assistance to Ukraine when many American communities don’t have the resources to deal with the ramifications of migrants crossing into the U.S. at the southern border, a rise in drug overdoses caused by fentanyl and other lab-produced synthetic opioids, and a homelessness crisis in his state.

Biden has repeatedly stated that the United States will help Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel the Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24 of last year. Privately, administration officials have warned Ukrainian officials that there is a limit to the patience of a narrowly divided Congress — and American public — for the costs of a war with no clear end. Congress approved about $113 billion in economic, humanitarian and military spending in 2022.

The poll shows 19% of Americans have a great deal of confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the situation in Ukraine, while 37% say they have only some confidence and 43% have hardly any.

Views of Biden’s handling of the war divide largely along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 40% say they have a great deal of confidence in Biden to handle the situation, 50% have some confidence and 9% have hardly any. Among Republicans, a large majority (76%) say they have hardly any confidence. Those numbers are largely unchanged since last May.

Janice Fortado, 78, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, said Biden deserves credit for his handling of the war. She agreed with Biden’s hesitance early in the war about sending advanced and offensive weaponry out of concern that it would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a pretext to expand the war beyond Ukraine and spur a larger global conflict.

But as the war has dragged on — and Ukrainian forces have held up against a more formidable Russian military — some of that resistance has melted away. Biden has approved sending light multiple rocket launchers known as HIMARS, Patriot missile systems, Bradley fighting vehicles, Abrams tanks, and more. Biden, however, continues to balk at Ukraine’s request for fighter jets.

“As my opinion evolved, I came to wish we had offered more to Ukraine sooner,” said Fortado, a Democrat, who added that she hopes the U.S. and allies change their mind on the fighter jets. “We seem to have done a drip, drip, drip. I understand why it is they were hesitant, but we are now beyond that point.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., before winning the speakership, vowed that Republicans wouldn’t write a “blank check” for Ukraine once they were in charge. And some of the most right-leaning Republicans lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky over his support of a $1.7 trillion spending bill passed in December that included about $47 billion for Ukraine.

Alex Hoxeng, 37, of Midland, Texas, said he expected Republicans to take a tougher line on Ukraine spending.

“I think Biden isn’t worried enough about inflation,” said Hoxeng, a Republican. “We should just stay out of it. Ukraine is halfway around the world and we have our own problems.”

A majority of Americans, 63%, still favor imposing economic sanctions on Russia, the poll shows, though that too has decreased from the 71% who said that in May 2022.

And 59% say limiting damage to the U.S. economy is more important than effectively sanctioning Russia, even if that means sanctions are less effective. Almost a year ago, in March 2022, the situation was reversed: 55% said it was a bigger priority to sanction Russia effectively, even if it meant damage to the U.S. economy.

Shandi Carter, 51, of Big Spring, Texas, said she’s become frustrated with the global ramifications the war has had on consumers, including volatile gas prices and increasing food costs. Carter, who tends to vote Republican, said she’s been displeased with Biden’s handling of the crisis but doesn’t think Donald Trump would have done any better had he won the 2020 election.

“I just wish it was over. I wish it had never started,” Carter said. “It didn’t matter if there was a Democrat or Republican there. Putin was going to do what he wanted to do.”

Overall, the poll shows that about a quarter of Americans, 26%, now say the U.S. should have a major role in the situation, down from as high as 40% in March 2022. Still, 49% say the U.S. should have a minor role, and just 24% say it should have no role.

Since last March, the percentage of Democrats saying the U.S. should have a major role has dipped slightly from 48% to 40%, while among Republicans it has dropped from 35% to 17%.

Democrats also remain more likely than Republicans to favor imposing economic sanctions on Russia (75% to 60%), accepting refugees from Ukraine (73% to 42%), providing weapons to Ukraine (63% to 39%) and sending government funds to Ukraine (59% to 21%). Support has softened at least slightly among both Democrats and Republicans since last May.

Tom Sadauskas, 68, a political independent from northern Virginia, said he doesn’t believe an end to the war is near. That makes him worried about the direction of American support for a conflict that he believes could have reverberations far beyond Ukraine if Putin is successful.

“I worry that as a country we get easily distracted,” said Sadauskas, who approves of Biden’s handling of the war thus far. “It’s easy to say, ‘It’s a faraway country. That it really doesn’t matter.’ But if Ukraine goes, what is our attitude going to be when Putin decides to move on and threaten one of our smaller neighboring NATO countries?”


The poll of 1,068 adults was conducted Jan. 26-30 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.


  1. Republican support was stronger when Obama was in office and not doing anything about Russia. Now that Biden is, Republicans oppose more. Surely Democrats are the same and just mindlessly oppositional to their ‘opponents’.

    A nuclear armed genocidal Dictator with veto-power in the UN Security Council is something we in the free world have to deal with. And let’s be clear … freedom will not be free because the evil cancer is actively trying to spread and treatment is required.

  2. I think that is why a two-party system sucks.
    The Republicans are against anything the Democrats are doing: if they support Ukraine then the Republicans want to focus at domestic issues, when the Democrats are not doing anything they think Ukraine should be supported.

    I think this system is completely broken.

    • I agree. For decades – since my youth – I wished that we had more than just Republicans and Democrats. We do have some Independents, but they are still too insignificant.

  3. Not a fan of either party here. I’m concerned by the growing fringe opposition from both. The misinformation being spread that U.S. support is taking away from domestic programs is a lie. Reality currently U.S. is giving about 1% support this can and must be raised to at least 5%. This can still be done without jeopardising any domestic programs or national security. In fact our support to Ukraine is vital to U.S. long term security and national interests.

  4. These numbers should not be the way they are. Many more people would support helping Ukraine if the White House were better at communicating the need to do so and what consequences we as a nation and people would suffer if we let mafia land win this war. It must be made clear that this is about much more than just Ukraine. I get the impression that I’m not exactly sure what the Biden administration’s final goal is, and I am deeply involved! I can imagine how the average Jane and John feels like.

    • I do agree, but I think the partisan media in the U.S. are the main culprit here.
      There is no way a Fox News or whatever Republican media outlet is going to show an uncut speech made by Biden or another person in the Administration. And even if so, there is always a pundit criticising the speech, no matter how good or how bad it is.

      Positive coverage does not generate clicks, so it will always be criticized even if the Democrats have the same opinion as the Republicans on some issues.

      One of the problems is that the support to Ukraine does not deliver some short term results, so the Biden administration does not have much to counter the criticism. Probably the public opinion will only improve somewhat after a new offensive.

      And no, also Democratic media like CNN does similar things.

      I do appreciate the media in the Netherlands a lot more over the last years: in the news they would show a part of for example a speech of Biden or Trump without the presenter giving his or her opinion on the matter.

      • I disagree. A well-versed president will always be a factor to be reckoned with for his enemies, and is seen in a much more positive light in the eye of the public. Even if there is pushback, Biden has righteousness on his side, and this is always a huge factor. Sometimes you have to be a good salesman as a POTUS to get things done. Ask Reagan and Kennedy, they were masters at it.

  5. The old adage…figures don’t lie but lures figure. What is amazing is the trustworthiness of polling data r the media. You see this poll and when I tried to find the detail of the poll, none of the demographics were available in being able to compare the previous poll. Gallup ran a poll onFeb 6 2023 and compared to the previous year. AMAZINGLY there was no change in public opinion from the previous year. Here is Gallup’s summary of their poll. Bottom line I don’t believe any one source, media or politicians

    Americans’ Preferred U.S. Action in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, 2022 vs. 2023

    Which would you prefer the U.S. to do in the Russia-Ukraine conflict?
    Bar chart showing Americans’ preferences for U.S. action in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022 vs. 2023. About two-thirds in both years want the U.S. to support Ukraine even in a prolonged conflict, while about one-third want the U.S. to help end the conflict quickly.
    % Support Ukraine reclaiming territory, even if prolonged conflict% End conflict quickly, even if Russia keeps territory
    Jan ’23
    Aug ’22

    For those of you who are appropriately skeptical here’s the link to Gallup

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