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Tipsheet

CNN Poll: Americans Unite Against Russia, But No Biden Bounce

As we await tomorrow's State of the Union Address, it's reasonable to anticipate the president devoting a fair amount of time to Russia's outrageous aggression in Ukraine.  If he attempts to deliver a spin-heavy message on the economy, while trying to take bogus credit for the Omicron surge subsiding (he will surely do some of this), that approach will feel even more tone deaf than it would have otherwise.  The world is watching a dramatic turn of events in Europe than many experts and elites were dismissing as far-fetched even a week ago, even as US and Western intelligence broadly got it right.  Fast-moving events in Ukraine, and fast-moving pushback across the globe, are the dominant story.  Biden would look ridiculous trying to pretend otherwise, and his team is almost certainly calibrating accordingly.

They are probably tempted to use this speech as a political reset domestically -- and Lord knows they need a dramatic reset -- but trying to shoe-horn that type of address, which probably wouldn't work anyway, into this moment would be a mistake.  We'll hear, of course, about economic improvement, 'success' stories on COVID mitigation (what a coincidence!), and the new Supreme Court nominee.  But it would be so obviously absurd to breeze past the war in Europe and Russia's desperate brutality that I don't think even this team will commit that error.  One factor Biden has going for him as Commander-in-Chief in this moment is an increasingly rare commodity: National unity.  A new CNN survey confirms that Americans are overwhelmingly anti-Russia in the face of Putin's brazen and illegal invasion of Ukraine:

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Eighty-three percent of Americans said they favored increased economic sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion, with just 17% opposed. New sanctions and economic restrictions aimed at Russia were announced by the US and other countries while the poll was in the field on Friday and Saturday. Support for increased sanctions in the new poll stands well above the 67% who favored the same in 2014 amid Russia's incursion into eastern Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea. A smaller majority, 62%, also wanted to see the US do more to stop Russian military action in Ukraine, with 38% saying the country has already done enough...partisan divides are far more muted, and in some cases nearly nonexistent. More than 8 in 10, across party lines, backed increased economic sanctions (84% among Democrats and Republicans, 81% among independents), and majorities said the US should be doing more to stop Russia (65% among Republicans, 64% among Democrats and 57% among independents)...There are, however, generational differences: Americans under age 45 were 11 percentage points less likely than older Americans to support increased sanctions and 10 points less likely to say the US should do more against Russia, though neither age group favored US military action.
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That last bit is interesting, as it suggests that the less likely Americans are to remember the Soviet Union and the Cold War, the less likely they are to favor getting tough with Putin -- a KGB thug who thinks the collapse of the Evil Empire was a global calamity.  Biden can tap into this unified spirit as he speaks to the nation tomorrow, but his strategists may not want to overestimate the extent of any related political windfall from which he may benefit:

There's little sign that the public is rallying around President Joe Biden's response to the crisis, despite the broad support for the type of sanctions his administration has put in place. Just 42% said they trust Biden at least moderately to make the right decisions regarding the situation in Ukraine, about on par with his overall approval rating in recent polling. These results, like most of Biden's numbers, are deeply polarized, with 84% of Democrats but just 9% of Republicans saying they trust his decision-making at least moderately.

Among independents, the breakdown on this question is (37/63). That's more or less a reflection of Biden's general approval rating, which is strikingly weak.  Americans' hostility toward the Russian regime in this survey is reflected in other recent polling, as well:

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It's a similar story among our British cousins across the Atlantic:


Their Prime Minister has been leading the charge for a hardline policy against the Kremlin following its invasion.  He is headed to Poland and Estonia this week to signal steadfast commitment to NATO, having made an emotional surprise visit to a Ukrainian congregation in London on Sunday:

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Some American leaders have made similar gestures of solidarity here at home.  I'll leave you with this:

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