More Republicans Than Democrats Have Confidence in Russia's Putin, Survey Shows

Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the hall during Russian-Belarussian talks in Sochi, Russia, February 7, 2020. Lukashenko and Putin had a day of talks at the mountain resort of Laura in Sochi. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

Republicans view Russian President Vladimir Putin around three times as favorably as do Democrats, according to a new analysis of the Pew Research Center's Spring 2019 Global Attitudes Survey.

Pew reported on Friday that 31 percent of Republicans have confidence in Putin to do "the right thing" in global affairs, compared with just 10 percent of Democrats. Overall, however, the average of 20 percent of Americans who are inclined to trust Putin constitutes a lower share than in most any other country queried by Pew in the spring 2019 survey.

In Canada, for instance, 29 percent of residents have confidence in the Russian president. In Greece, this number is as high as 52 percent. Seventy-three percent of Russians profess confidence in their own president, while 21 percent did not.

American attitudes toward Putin have steadily declined over the last decade or so, Pew has documented, though the individual parties have diverged in their overall trends. In May 2003, 41 percent of Americans had confidence in Putin. Five years later, than number dropped to 28 percent, before fluctuating for a few years to ultimately settle on 20 percent in 2019.

Republicans saw their confidence in Putin decline during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, before steadily increasing around 2014. After the 2016 election, Republican confidence in Putin surged to 34 percent of the party's members.

Democrats, on the other hand, have gradually lost confidence in Putin since 2006. Save for a six-point spike during the early Obama years, the party has consistently trended downward in its attitudes towards Putin.

The spike mirrors the efforts of the Obama's nascent administration to craft the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, an attempt at limited, bilateral nuclear disarmament between Russia and the U.S.

While confidence in Russia, a major foil in 2020 election campaigning, is waning domestically--voters, especially Democrats, are not necessarily experiencing a corresponding rise in perceptions of America itself.

A recent Pew survey found that just 10 percent of Democrats believe the U.S. "stands above all other countries." Just 7 percent of Sanders supporters and 4 percent of Warren supporters believe this.

And Russia is not the only U.S. adversary Americans are growing increasingly wary of. Pew's spring 2019 report found that, since 2018, unfavorable attitudes towards China have soared to 60 percent, their highest levels since at least 2005.

This corresponds with the tariff war Trump has embarked on with China, America's largest trading partner. The administration recently signed phase one of a multilateral trade deal with China, but it did not address many of the complaints that had led to the trade-related falling-out between the two countries.