Poll: Russia joins Americans’ axis of evil

March 14

Roughly seven in 10 Americans view Russia as a threat to the United States, a new poll released Friday shows, the highest percentage since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Sixty-nine percent say Russia presents a "very" or "moderately" serious threat to America -- up 25 percentage points since April 2012, according to the CNN/ORC International poll. The percentage who say Russia is a "very" serious threat (29 percent) has nearly tripled since then (11 percent).

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday as Russian forces were tightening their grip over Crimea in Ukraine. Not since 1985, when 76 percent of Americans said the Soviet Union was a serious threat, has the percentage been greater. The last time a CNN poll showed a majority of Americans saying Russia presents a serious threat to the United States was in 1999.

For context, Russia is now seen as just about as threatening as Iran (70 percent) or North Korea (71 percent).

The large, 25-point change in opinion on Russia as a threat holds constant across political and ideological groups. But it's notable that majorities of Democrats and independents now say Russia is a threat. In 2012 fewer than half said so. Republicans have increased just as much, but a majority two years ago also said that Russia was a threat.

Despite the spike in concern over Russia's threat to the United States, polls show Americans appear to have little interest in getting involved in a serious confrontation over Ukraine.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.

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