Poll: Biden More to Blame Than Trump Over Ukraine; Majority Favors Drilling to Combat Rising Gas Prices

To the extent that American foreign policy encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, more registered voters blame President Joe Biden than they do his predecessor, Donald Trump — and they're ready to punish Democrats for it in November, according to a new poll.

Plus, the majority of registered voters — even from Biden's own party — want the president to focus less on his green agenda and allow for more drilling in the U.S. in order to address soaring gas prices.

The data, from a HarrisX poll shared exclusively with Newsweek, concludes that while 42 percent of voters say that Trump's policies are "more to blame about the Russian invasion of Ukraine," 58 percent blame Biden. The poll results largely break down along party lines; among independents, 66 percent blame Biden and 34 percent blame Trump.

When given more options as responses, the poll doesn't favor the current president either: 40 percent blame him, 26 percent blame Trump, 24 percent say neither are to blame and 10 percent say they are equally to blame.

When asked whether "Russia's attack on Ukraine makes you more or less likely to vote for one party or another in the 2022 mid-term elections," 36 percent say they're more likely to vote Republican and 24 percent say they're more likely to vote Democrat, while 31 percent say it will not impact their vote. Among independents, 31 percent say they are more likely to vote Republican because of Biden's handling of Ukraine while 13 percent say they're now more likely to vote Democrat.

"Voters believe that Biden has projected weakness to Putin with the slow rollout of economic sanctions," said Dritan Nesho, the chief pollster and CEO of HarrisX. "If the Ukraine crisis drags on and is top of mind leading to the midterms, it looks like voters — especially independents — will punish Democratic leaders for slow and tepid actions."

As for the gas situation, the Automobile Club of America said Friday the national average price per gallon jumped 21 cents in just a week to $3.73 while California set a record at an average of $4.94 a gallon and in Los Angeles it topped $5. On Sunday, one gas station in L.A. County was selling regular gasoline for $7 a gallon. When Biden took office 14 months ago, the national average for gas was $2.39, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The HarrisX poll asked voters, "In light of Russia's attack on Ukraine and soaring gasoline prices, should the Biden administration ease its focus on climate change and allow more oil and natural gas exploration in the U.S. or not?"

Sixty-nine percent answered "yes" to the question while 31 percent said "no." Even members of Biden's party, the Democrats, answered "yes"more often than "no," 53 percent to 47 percent. Only 14 percent of Republicans did not want more exploration while just 30 percent of independents said "no."

The survey of 3,010 registered voters was conducted February 25-27 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

The HarrisX poll comes on the heels of a Reuters/Ipsos poll that said 80 percent of Americans support the idea of banning Russian imports of oil, as Canada has done, but such a move would likely cause gas prices to climb higher still; in November, the U.S. was getting 7 percent of its oil from Russia, CNET reported.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked Thursday about the potential to ban Russian oil imports and she nixed the idea, saying that such a move "would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people, around the world, because it would reduce the supply available. And it's as simple as: Less supply raises prices."

A week ago, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated the American Energy Independence from Russia Act that would have, among other things, reauthorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that Biden shut down early in his presidency. Democrats voted against the measure while all but one Republican voted in favor of the bill.

Voters, said Nesho, "don't believe you can effectively stop Putin while buying his oil. They call for easing the focus on climate change to allow more oil and natural gas exploration in the U.S. — a call that includes ... very importantly, a majority of Democrats."

Last week, Stephen Moore, co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and author of Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on American Energy, called on Biden to issue more drilling permits to oil-rich states.

"Every barrel we don't produce in Texas and Alaska puts money into the coffers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, helping finance his war machine. Putin loves high oil and gas prices," Moore wrote in the New York Post.

Biden, meanwhile, has been touting his decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic reserves while other nations in the International Energy Agency combined for an additional 30 million. Critics, though, note that the 60 million barrels is about what the U.S. gets from Russia every two weeks, thus insufficient to bring down the price of gas in any meaningful way.

Some Democrats are also pushing the idea of a "gas-tax holiday," whereby the collection of the 18.4-cent federal tax per gallon would be suspended, but critics note that the plan would increase demand by lowering prices but do nothing to boost supply, thus doing more harm than good.

Composite Image Shows Trump and Biden
A composite photo shows former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. A poll says Biden's policies are more to blame for the Russian invasion of Ukraine than are Trump's. Getty Images