November 9, 2016 | By Dina Smeltz, Lily Wojtowicz

The US-Russian Relationship

One of the many surprises of President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises occurred early on: an endorsement of friendlier relations with Russia. On this issue, he remained consistent over time, and resulted this morning with an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to restore US-Russia ties. And yet, the Council’s 2016 survey found little difference between core Trump supporters’ dismal views on Russia and those of more traditional Republicans.

In an effort to grasp the public basis for US-Russian disillusionment the 2016 Chicago Council Survey partnered with the Levada Analytical Center in Moscow to ask Americans and Russians how they feel about each other and—more importantly—each other’s government. Unsurprisingly, the Council and Levada found that Americans don’t view Russia favorably and Russians don’t view the US favorably. In both countries, the crisis in Ukraine brought public favorability to lows not seen in the post-Cold War world.

Distrust is a driving force behind these sentiments. Russians believe the real reason the US placed sanctions on Russia was to curtail Russian might. They also fear a disagreement over Syria will result in an armed conflict between the two countries and recognize that the Russian government fears NATO enlargement. Americans similarly suspect Russia is trying to constrain it and that it is working against US interests in the conflict in Syria, the Iran deal, and wider nonproliferation efforts. And yet, like Trump, majorities of all Americans want more cooperation with Russia.

To read more about the chilled American and Russian perceptions, and a few sprinkles of hope for future improved relations, see the Council’s brief here (по-русски здесь) and The Washington Post’s take on the data here

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

Archive


| By Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm

Scholars vs the Public: Collapse of the INF Treaty

In early February 2019, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty following President Trump’s October 2018 (and the Obama administration’s July 2014) accusations that Russia was failing to comply with the treaty. Russia withdrew from the treaty the next day.

Findings from a February 2019 Chicago Council on Global Affairs general public survey and a December 2018 Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey of International Relations (IR) scholars around the world illustrate how these different populations perceive the collapse of the INF Treaty.



| By Craig Kafura

Expert Panel Survey: US Focus on the Denuclearization of North Korea

Despite expectations for the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, their recent summit in Hanoi ended with no agreement toward denuclearization. With that in mind, we asked our panel of foreign policy experts whether the United States should continue to focus primarily on denuclearization, or shift to arms control and non-proliferation.



| By Dina Smeltz

Opinion Landscape Not Ideal for New Mideast Peace Plan

At a Middle East conference this month in Warsaw, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Mideast adviser, said that the administration will unveil its much-vaunted Middle East peace plan after the April 9 Israeli elections.


| By Karl Friedhoff

America the Dangerous

The Trump administration has taken a hard line on China, but has failed to convince the American public or many allies to follow suit. Instead, publics around the world now see the United States as a major threat.






| By Craig Kafura

2018: Year in Chicago Council Surveys

It's been a busy, eventful year around the world. Throughout 2018, the Council's polling team has captured public and opinion leader attitudes on some of the most pressing foreign policy issues, including US-Russia relations, American views of China, public support for internationalism and trade, and how the rising generation of Millennials think about American foreign policy.


| By Karl Friedhoff

Confidence in Congress Low

As the House becomes majority Democrat, there is low confidence among the American public for Congress--and several other institutions--to shape policies that benefit the United States.



| By Craig Kafura

Public Support for Foreign Aid Programs

Past surveys have found that Americans want to cut US spending on foreign assistance and dramatically overestimate how much the US spends on those programs. When asked to construct their own US budget in the 2018 Chicago Council Survey, Americans allocate far more than the US actually spends.