NewsNation Poll: Americans back sanctions, fear broader Russian attacks


(NewsNation) — Americans are united over the war in Ukraine — in what they support, what they won’t support and what they fear — according to a new NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Wednesday.

There is broad support for continuing to arm the Ukrainians in their fight against Russia as well as for the economic sanctions imposed by the United States, according to the NewsNation poll.

But Americans draw a line: they are almost as strongly against using U.S. troops to defend Ukraine.

Plus, most believe Russia will invade more countries. Plus, as a result of Russia’s invasion, more than four in five voters worry there will be a nuclear attack in the world within the next decade, the poll also found.

“That nuclear genie we kept on trying to stuff back into the bottle after the Cold War, you can’t put it back into the bottle, it’s always there,” said Michael Genovese, president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

The NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ survey was conducted between Saturday and Monday. A total of 1,021 U.S. registered voters were interviewed and most poll questions had a margin of error of about 3%.

NewsNation’s Leland Vittert will further break down the poll results during his show, On Balance, at 7 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Find out how to tune into NewsNation here.

Scott Tranter, an adviser for Decision Desk HQ, called the poll results “unifying” and a signal that both Republicans and Democrats agree on the role the United States should get involved in the Russian invasion.

Seventy-three percent of Americans supported continuing to provide weapons to Ukraine and 72% favor economic sanctions, according to the NewsNation poll.

Support for sanctions against Russia dropped to 65% once respondents learned that sanctions could increase American gas prices, the poll stated. Respondents were asked these questions before President Biden’s announcement on Tuesday that Russian oil would no longer be accepted at U.S. ports.

“But when you still take away those people, you’re at 65% for it, which again, that means it’s not split on party lines,” Tranter said. “There are Republicans and Democrats. Big chunks of both political leanings are like ‘no, no, despite the high gas prices, I still think this is necessary.”

Respondents’ support for economic sanctions are in line with other findings. A recent poll from Reuters and Ipsos determined that 81% of Americans think Washington should impose additional sanctions on Russia.

Americans are united in the government’s current policies. However, they were evenly split on the president himself. Fifty-two percent approved of the president’s approach, compared to a disapproving 48%.

President Joe Biden has said he won’t deploy U.S. troops to Ukraine to fight Russia. Americans agreed: only 35 percent supported deploying troops into the conflict. If the president were to pursue military action against Russia, more than 57% of Americans were against returning to a draft.

A strong majority, about 82%, were concerned that Russia will invade other countries.

“They’re prepared to use sanctions. They’re prepared to send arms to Ukraine,” said David Marples, a professor of Russian and East European history at the University of Alberta. “They would not want to see the involvement of American troops in Ukraine, nor would they want to see conscription.”

Genovese, from Loyola Marymount, called the United States a “weary superpower.”

“In a democracy, you ultimately go back to the voters and the voters are saying, ‘we’ve seen it, we’re not happy. If you’re going to send in troops, we really need to compete to be convinced.’ So there’s a level of skepticism, not cynicism, but skepticism that is highly appropriate for any democracy,” Genovese said. “If you want to send in American boys and girls to die and to kill, you’d better damn well be sure you know what you’re doing.”

The poll also revealed Americans’ rising fears of a nuclear attack. Just more than four in five voters said they were concerned that there will be a nuclear attack in the world within the next decade. It’s a concern so prevalent it’s reminiscent of the Cold War, Genovese said.

“I know in high school, even in grade school, we would talk about that: are we going to be able to grow up? Will there be a future for us? Should I work really hard now? Or am I going to be dead in five years? It used to be just an overburdening weight upon our shoulders,” Genovese said. “After the Cold War, we kind of moved away from that fear — but how quickly it can be rekindled.”

Putin issued a directive late last month to increase the readiness of Russia’s nuclear weapons, citing “aggressive statements” by NATO and tough financial sanctions. Putin’s actions raised fears that the invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war, whether by design or mistake.

It’s a threat that, from Putin, Marples said he doesn’t take “too seriously.”

“This is simply a warning that he doesn’t want the West to get involved and a sign that he’s taking drastic action and probably doesn’t really have another way out,” Marples said. “He’s got to win this war in order to stay in power, and it’s an extreme action in every way really.”

Although voters who responded to the poll were twice as likely to identify Russia as the nation’s largest threat rather than China, there still was strong support for intervening if tensions between China and Taiwan escalate.

In fact, 75% said they would support imposing economic sanctions against China if it were to invade Taiwan.

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