How Ukraine aid views are shaped by Cold War memories, partisanship…and Donald Trump — CBS News poll


Views about aid to Ukraine are partly a reflection of how Americans see Russia, the U.S.’ role in the wider world, and given the circumstances, some of that view is informed by how well they remember the Cold War. 

And more immediately, they’re partisan — with splits within the GOP and the continued influence of former President Donald Trump on the party.

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There are the differences within the Republican Party, where we see at least one indicator of the influence of Donald Trump:

For information about the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Republicans put their trust of Donald Trump higher than the U.S. military/Pentagon; higher than conservative media sources; and far more than the U.S. State Department. 

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Republicans who trust Trump are less likely to back Ukraine aid than those who trust the Pentagon.

Self-identified “MAGA” Republicans almost entirely trust Trump for information, and are especially opposed to aid — even more so than non-MAGA Republicans.

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(For context, Democrats who trust Joe Biden also trust the Pentagon as much, and they also largely trust the State Department and journalists in the war zone.)

Aid, Russia, and the US role in the world

Those who see Russia as an enemy to the U.S. today are far more likely to support aid to Ukraine — and that “enemy” number among Republicans has been dropping of late.

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But views on Russia might partly be a function of age rather than ideology, too. Older Republicans and older Democrats are more likely to call Russia an enemy than are younger ones. 

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We wondered if that had to do with growing up during the Cold War.

It turns out the people who say the U.S. won the Cold War against the Soviet Union are more likely to call Russia an “enemy” today and are more likely to back aid to Ukraine. 

Those over age 50 are more likely to say the U.S. won.

And people who say they don’t remember the Cold War are less likely to back U.S. aid to Ukraine now.

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But memories are collectively a very mixed bag. Three in 10 Americans say they don’t remember the Cold War well enough to say whether the U.S. won or lost.

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Today, there is an even more straightforward connection between perceived effectiveness of the aid at stopping Russian military action in Europe and support.

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More broadly, those who see Ukraine aid as a moral issue, or who feel the U.S. has a responsibility to help and to promote democracy around the world, more generally, are also more in favor of it.

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This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,399 U.S. adult residents interviewed between April 9-12, 2024. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±2.6  points.

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