Russia's popularity among Americans has again dropped to Cold War-era depths, according to a poll from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released Wednesday.


Chicago Council polls of U.S. adults

The poll found Americans giving Russia an average rating of 32 when asked to rate their feelings toward Russia from 0 to 100. That score is down from an average of 40 in the organization’s June survey and marks the lowest score on this measure since 1986, when Russia’s rating stood at 31.

The survey comes after publication of a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election, in part to help Donald Trump become president. That conclusion was endorsed last week by the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Trump has said that he doesn’t believe the CIA’s findings, calling them “ridiculous” in a Fox News Sunday interview this month.

Compared with other countries, Russia continues to be significantly less popular with the American public than its closest neighbors and its largest international rival. Russia’s overall rating, 32, is 11 percentage points behind China’s 41, and far behind Mexico’s 55 and Canada’s 76.


Chicago Council poll Dec. 16-18, 2016

Among the seven countries tested in the Chicago Council poll, only North Korea ranks below Russia at 20. Russia’s score also ranks above Iran’s average rating of 26 when it was included in the survey.

Republicans and Democrats appear to have reacted differently to Russia since the election. Democrats have recoiled most sharply from Russia in the past six months, with their average rating of the nation dropping 12 percentage points since June, from 40 to 28 on the 0-to-100 scale. Republicans’ ratings have hardly budged, from an average rating of 38 this summer to 35 today.


Although Republicans have not mimicked Democrats, the Chicago Council poll contrasts with other polling this month that found Republicans warming toward Russia’s president and the country overall. An Economist/YouGov poll found a growing percentage of Republicans rating Vladimir Putin favorably since 2014 (a longer over-time comparison) and a shrinking share saying Russia is either unfriendly or an enemy compared with last summer.

In the Chicago Council poll, only 15 percent of Republicans rate their feelings toward Russia as positive (between 51 and 100 on a 0-100 scale), slightly down from 20 percent in June. Over 6 in 10 Republicans rate Russia below 50 on this scale (63 percent), a number that rises to 70 percent among Democrats.

Regardless of skepticism toward Russia, the poll found large majorities saying they favor cooperation with Russia to end the conflict in Syria (78 percent), limit Iran’s nuclear program (79 percent) and reduce nuclear weapons worldwide (80 percent).

Nonetheless, the historically negative marks for Russia suggest that Americans are deeply skeptical of the country, making the prospect of closer ties under a Trump administration a difficult sell to the broader public.

This Chicago Council survey was conducted online Dec. 16-18 among a national sample of 1,005 adults. The sample was drawn through GfK Custom Research’s Knowledge Panel, which was recruited through probability-based sampling methods. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; the error margin is roughly 5.5 points among self-identified Democrats and Republicans.