Poll: Russians and Americans See Each Other With Disappointment and Mistrust

February 7, 2018

Expectations that U.S.-Russia relations would improve under President Donald Trump have been dashed, according to new polling data from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Analytical Center.

A year ago, 46 percent of Russians thought U.S.-Russian relations would improve after the election of President Donald Trump (29 percent said no change, 10 percent worsen), but new data show 51 percent of Russians think relations haven't changed at all (14 percent improved, 28 worsened).

For their part, Americans rate Russia an average of 31 degrees on a temperature scale where 0 degrees represents a very cold, unfavorable feeling and 100 degrees represents a very warm, favorable feeling.

Findings from the report, "Despite Last Year’s Expectations, Publics Sense Strains in US-Russia Relations" include:

Russian Views of American’s Influence and Power

  • Eight in ten Russians believe that the United States tries to influence Russia’s domestic affairs (78 percent) and that the United States is trying to undermine Russia’s international influence and power (81 percent).
  • A narrow majority in Russia says that Moscow should try to limit U.S. power (52 percent) rather than undertake friendly cooperation with the United States (47 percent). Nevertheless, Russians widely believe that Russia needs to improve relations with the United States and other Western countries (75 percent at least a fair amount).

American Views of Russia’s Influence and Power

  • Seven in ten Americans think that Russia tries to influence U.S. domestic affairs (69 percent) and that Russia is actively working to undermine U.S. international influence and power (74 percent).
  • More Americans say the United States should actively work to limit Russia’s power (53 percent) than undertake friendly cooperation (43 percent), a reversal from last year.
  • While still a minority position, more Americans see Russian military power as a critical threat to the United States now (42 percent in June-July 2017) than when last asked in 2002 (23 percent).

Both Publics on Global Role

  • Both Russians (56 percent) and Americans (with a plurality of 41 percent) tend to agree that Russia plays a more important role in the world today than it did ten years ago.
  • Nearly half of Americans (47 percent) and a third of Russians (32 percent) think the United States is less important today than ten years ago.

For the full findings and survey methodology, please view the report online.

The analysis in this report is based on data from the joint 2017 Chicago Council-Levada Analytical Center survey on Russian and American Attitudes conducted in December 2017. The 2017 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy, conducted in the summer of 2017, is also cited.

About the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. Ranked No. 1 Think Tank to Watch worldwide, the Council on Global Affairs is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business and governments engage the world. Learn more at thechicagocouncil.org and follow @ChicagoCouncil.

About the Levada-Center
The Levada-Center is one of the leading research organizations in Russia that conduct mass public surveys, expert and elite surveys, depth interviews, focus groups as well as other survey methods. Staff of the center brings together experts in the field of sociology, political science, economics, psychology, market research, and public opinion polls. Polling results and expertise of the Center’s staff is broadly covered by national and international media such as Kommersant, Vedomosti, RBC, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reuters, BBC Radio, Radio Liberty, and others. Learn more at levada.ru and follow @levada_ru or on Facebook.