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The economy is a higher priority than punishing Russia: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are increasingly less supportive of punishing Russia for launching its invasion of Ukraine if it comes at the expense of the U.S. economy, a sign of growing anxiety about inflation and to other challenges, according to a new survey.

While broad support for U.S. sanctions has not waned, the balance of opinion on the priority given to sanctions over the economy has shifted, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. Today, 45% of American adults say the country’s biggest priority should be to sanction Russia as effectively as possible, while slightly more – 51% – say it should limit damage to the economy American.

In April, these numbers were exactly reversed. In March, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine, a clear majority – 55% – said the highest priority should be to sanction Russia as effectively as possible.

The shifts in sentiment reflect how rising prices are hitting U.S. households — soaring costs for gas, groceries and other basics have strained the budgets of millions — and perhaps limit- be their willingness to support Ukraine financially. That may be a troubling sign for President Joe Biden, who on Saturday approved $40 billion in additional funding to help Ukraine, including weapons and financial assistance. The poll shows low confidence in him to handle the situation and an overall approval rating that has reached the lowest point of his presidency.

“We’re killing each other,” said Jeanette Ellis-Carter, a retired accountant who lives with her husband in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We can help others, but to help others, you have to know how to help yourself. And we don’t.

Ellis-Carter, 70, noted annual inflation above 8% would wipe out any adjustment to the cost of living for retirees, especially with rising health care and food costs. She continues to do accounting work, but has lost small business clients who can no longer afford to hire her.

The poll shows that large majorities of American adults continue to support imposing sanctions on Russia, banning imported oil from Russia and supplying arms to Ukraine. And most American adults continue to say the United States should have a role in the war between Russia and Ukraine: 32% say the United States should have a major role in the conflict, while 49% say they should have a minor role.

But there is weak support for sending funds directly to Ukraine. 44% of Americans say they support sending remittances, while 32% oppose it and 23% neither support nor oppose it.

The new poll shows that only 21% of Americans say they have “a great deal of confidence” in Biden’s ability to handle the situation in Ukraine; 39% say they have some confidence and 39% say they have almost none.

“Sometimes we get involved in things that we really shouldn’t, and that’s going to make things worse,” said Angelica Christensen, 33, of Ithaca, New York. “We need to focus now on building our economy.”

US and European allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, cutting off major banks from global transactions and directly going after Russian President Vladimir Putin, top leaders and their families. The United States has also banned the import of Russian oil.

While Russian oil represents only a small portion of total US energy imports, the ban comes as gas prices have surged in recent months to $4.71 a gallon, or $1.61 more than a year ago. Supply chain issues and increased economic demand with the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions contributed to higher prices. Biden and many Democrats have blamed gas companies for price hikes, while Republicans say the White House should support increased domestic oil and natural gas drilling.

Overall, 45% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of US-Russia relations, while 54% disapprove. This has been maintained every month since the beginning of the conflict. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and 15% of Republicans approve.

Shantha Bunyan, a 43-year-old woman from Loveland, Colorado, said she still supports Biden and believes he performed better than former President Donald Trump. She’s heard jokes that the most expensive place to visit in town is the local gas station. But Bunyan, who spent years traveling abroad before the pandemic began and lived for a month in Moscow, said she believed the United States must continue to sacrifice itself to support the Ukrainian resistance. .

“We seem to think that whatever is going on in the world is not going to affect us and that we live in a sort of bubble,” she said. “It seems to me that whatever happens in the rest of the world is going to affect us. Unless we do something proactive, our economy will be affected anyway.

But Jackie Perry, a 62-year-old from Central, Alabama, said while she sympathized with the Ukrainians and believed Russia was unwarranted in launching its invasion, the White House needed to focus more on the economy. She had to stop driving because gasoline is too expensive.

“They don’t have to worry about gas prices,” she said of the Biden administration. “If they were more interested in the people they’re supposed to serve, our gas wouldn’t be so high.”


The AP-NORC poll of 1,172 adults was conducted May 12-16 using a sample drawn from the AmeriSpeak NORC Probability-Based Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.