Joe Biden Made Right Call on Chinese Spy Balloon, Americans Say

Most Americans believe that President Joe Biden made the right decision in shooting down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that passed over U.S. territory.

The balloon was shot down off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on February 4 and the Biden administration had received some criticism for not shooting the object down earlier.

However, a poll from TheEconomist/YouGov published on Thursday found that a majority of Americans approve of the Biden administration's decision to wait until the balloon was no longer over land.

The poll found that 79 percent of respondents believed it was right to shoot down the balloon, while 7 percent thought it was the wrong decision and 14 percent said they weren't sure.

Joe Biden Speaks to the Press
President Joe Biden listens as Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva speaks to the press before a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on February 10, 2023, in Washington, D.C. A new poll shows most Americans approve of the Biden administration shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

When the survey asked if the U.S. government was right to wait until the balloon was over water before shooting it down, 55 percent answered that it was the right decision.

A further 31 percent said it was the wrong decision and 14 percent answered that they were not sure.

The Economist/YouGov poll was conducted among 1,500 U.S. adults from February 11 to 14.

The survey also found bipartisan support for shooting down the balloon, though there were clear differences about the timing that appeared to be based along party lines.

Among Democrats, 85 percent said shooting the object down was the right decision, 6 percent said it was the wrong decision and 9 percent weren't sure.

Republicans also approved of shooting it down, with 88 percent calling it the right decision, 7 percent saying it was wrong and 6 percent answering "not sure."

Democrats also approved of the decision to wait until the balloon was over water, with 80 percent in favor of the move, 10 percent saying it was wrong and 10 percent not sure.

It was a different picture among Republicans with 36 percent saying that the Biden administration was right to wait before shooting down the balloon, while 53 percent said it was the wrong decision and 11 percent saying they weren't sure.

Three further flying objects were subsequently shot down over North American airspace and their origin has not yet been identified.

President Biden is expected make public remarks about the incidents as early as Thursday, though the exact timing is unclear as the president is also undergoing a physical that day, which may last several hours.

Some elected Republicans were among those questioning why the balloon had not been shot down while it was over land but the administration cited the potential danger to Americans from falling debris.

"With a successful strike, President Biden sent a forceful message to China that this was unacceptable while using their maneuver against them so that we gained more intelligence," the White House told Newsweek in a statement on February 7.

"Meanwhile, he protected our own sensitive information as we tracked their balloon's path and acted accordingly. And he accomplished all of this while keeping civilians safe from any harm. That's what the American people expect from their commander in chief," the statement added.

Newsweek has asked the White House for further comment.