TIPP Insights: President Biden’s performance on Russia

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By tippinsights Editorial Board, TIPP Insights

Here’s the conundrum. If you listen to the media, you’ll get the impression that President Biden is doing well and that his approval rating has risen due to his handling of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This prompted us, at tippinsights, to take a closer look at our most recent polling results. We present the data as well as potential explanations.

The Trend

Over the past 12 months, the share of Americans giving President Biden good grades for his handling of Russia has stayed in the 26% to 37% range. Early March, it was 32%.

The range by party:

  • 49% to 61% for Democrats, hitting 60% in March,
  • 7% to 16% for Republicans with 7% in March,
  • 15% to 25% for independents with 21% in March.

March Highlights

  • 60% of Democrats give President Biden an A or B
  • 80% of Republicans give him a D or F
  • 51% of Independents give him a D or F
  • 68% of conservatives grade him a D or F
  • 40% of moderates give him a D or F, while 31% of them give him an A or B, and
  • 51% of liberals give an A or B.
Handling of Russia - March 2022

After Russia invaded Ukraine, we added a new question to evaluate Biden’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Below are the results, which closely resemble the results we presented for Russia. Overall, 33% give him an A or B, and 42% give him a D or F.  Party and ideology breakdown are very similar to the pattern we saw previously.

  • 62% of Democrats give President Biden an A or B
  • 77% of Republicans give him a D or F
  • 47% of Independents give him a D or F
  • 65% of conservatives grade him a D or F
  • 38% of moderates give him a D or F, while another 35% of them give him an A or B, and
  • 54% of liberals give an A or B.
Handling of Russia-Ukraine Situation

Behind The Poor Performance

Biden has a history with Ukraine. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, President Biden and his former boss President Barack Obama, turned a blind eye.

Gaffes are his specialty; “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera,” Biden said. President Putin could have interpreted “minor incursion” as tacit approval.

Until recently, Russia supplied the United States with 700,000 of crude oil and refined petroleum products per day. President Biden’s green policies have reduced domestic oil production. To offset, we purchased Russian oil, which contributes to President Putin’s war chest. President Biden gave Germany the nod to go ahead with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which increased the country’s reliance on Russian gas.

President Biden suffers from a fear of escalation. He communicates it to the rest of the world through his actions. For example, he waited long to impose sanctions on Russia, a missed opportunity. Timely Sanctions imposed when Putin amassed 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border might have led to a diplomatic solution. Why didn’t he send more weapons to NATO’s Russian-bordering countries in anticipation?

Wouldn’t a strategic leader keep all his options open? Like his former boss, President Biden has a habit of telegraphing the world his future moves. He has repeated that U.S. troops are not an option that demoralizes Ukraine and communicates a weakness to the enemy.

Further, his actions don’t match the bluster. While he was touting strong sanctions before the invasion, the first round of sanctions was anemic.

President Biden’s public diplomacy style is self-defeating. Should he conduct diplomacy involving a no-fly zone in Ukraine or the dispatch of MIG jets to Ukraine in public? Do we need to know neither Dubai nor Riyadh is rushing to answer the call from the leader of the free world?

Then there are also a few unforced errors. For example, over one year into Biden’s Presidency, we didn’t even have an ambassador to Ukraine.

Finally, Americans don’t believe that foreign policy is President Biden’s strength. It takes a lot to erase the images of the Afghan withdrawal fiasco. 56% of Americans in a recent TIPP Poll think that Biden’s Afghan debacle emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine.

The media may portray the President as doing well, especially when compared to the low bar set by the Afghanistan pullout debacle. But, Americans are smarter, and their opinions differ.

READ MORE ON TIPP INSIGHTS

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