Mar 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Two Americas Index: Ukraine divides conservatives

Americans' opinions on U.S. military involvement in foreign issues, by party
Data: IPSOS and Axios Research; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Four in five Republicans want the U.S. to remain the world's leading power — but fewer than half support giving Ukraine weapons and financial support to try to save itself from Russia, according to the latest wave of the Axios-Ipsos Two Americas Index.

Why it matters: These conflicting findings come amid a diplomatic crisis after Russia forced down a U.S. drone above the Black Sea — and a GOP identity crisis shaping the 2024 presidential race.

Driving the news: Fox News host Tucker Carlson, former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have all been arguing that continued involvement with Ukraine isn't in the U.S.' interests.

  • Many other GOP leaders, as well as President Biden and European allies, say helping Ukraine is vital to protecting democracy.

By the numbers: Just 42% of Republicans surveyed now say they support sending U.S. weapons and money to Ukraine — compared with 79% of Democrats and 60% of independents.

The big picture: 20 years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, the survey finds that conflict casting a long shadow over Americans' views about foreign policy.

  • Most Americans, across party lines, don't believe two decades of U.S. war in Iraq made the U.S. safer. But Republicans (44%) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (24%) to say that it did.
  • 58% of Republicans and 26% of Democrats said the U.S. was right to invade.

Zoom in: 79% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats — about equal shares — say the U.S. should continue to be the global leader. And a huge majority of Republicans (88%) and majority of Democrats (52%) oppose the U.S. reducing military and national security spending.

What they're saying: "Leading Republican voices are increasingly charting a course outside the mainstream," Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson said. "One in three Republicans say the U.S. was right to invade Iraq, but we shouldn’t support Ukraine in its current conflict with Russia.

  • "This puts Republicans out of step with the rest of Americans, where the plurality support Ukraine and thinks that the Iraq war was a mistake.”

The intrigue: Support for arming Ukraine is noticeably lower among people whose primary news source is Fox News or other conservative media (43%) than among people who mainly watch or read network news, major national papers or their local news (66%).

  • At the same time, 85% of viewers of conservative media said the U.S. should continue to try to be the global leader compared with 67% in the broader mainstream category.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 10-13, 2023, by Ipsos on their online survey panels in English. This poll is based on a sample of 1,018 general population adults age 18 or older, weighted on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, and location to be nationally representative.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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