WaPo/ABC poll shows Obama underwater on Ukraine crisis, Russia

posted at 10:41 am on March 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s been amusing to see Barack Obama’s defenders climb on very high horses indeed to condemn criticism of his handling of Russia over the last five years and the passivity that may or may not have led to the crisis in Ukraine. Those of us who didn’t just spring to life in January 2009 certainly recall plenty of vitriol aimed at Obama’s predecessor for his foreign policy — including by certain members of the Senate who insisted that Bush had already lost in Iraq and that his “surge” policy should be stopped. One of those, who’s rumored to aim at the top job in 2016, even declared such dissent “patriotic,” at least until it was aimed at her. Good times, good times.

Today’s Washington Post/ABC poll shows that plenty of people are unhappy with Obama’s performance on Russia and Ukraine, which prompts this question — when did America get so darned unpatriotic, anyway?

A bipartisan majority of Americans support hitting Russia with sanctions for its actions involving Ukraine, but the public splits on President Obama’s handling of the issue in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A solid 56 percent supports a coordinated effort of U.S. and European sanctions against Russia, which continues to strengthen its grip over the Crimean peninsula. Nearly as many strongly support sanctions (28 percent) as oppose them altogether (31 percent).

But Obama, who ordered sanctions Thursday against individuals aiding the takeover, receives lukewarm 42 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval marks, with a substantial 15 percent holding no opinion.

Overall, Democrats and Republicans are in rare agreement in supporting sanctions, and familiar discord about Obama. Just over six in 10 of partisans in both camps support sanctioning Russia. And in an unheard of alignment of the far left and far right, 68 percent of liberal Democrats support sanctions, as do 69 percent of conservative Republicans.

That’s really no big surprise. Now that we’re where we’re at, there aren’t too many options left on the table. No one wants to go to war to keep Crimea Ukrainian, not even the Ukrainians. They’re more concerned about keeping Russia from annexing everything east of the Dnieper now, and trying mightily to prevent giving Vladimir Putin a pretext for doing so. Few want to just allow Putin free reign over the former Soviet republics with no consequences, either, so sanctions are about the only option we have. That’s not a partisan calculation, it’s reality.

The problem for Obama is how we ended up with so few options to stop Putin in the first place. That is why the approval rating for his handling of the situation is so low, compared to the support of the options Obama is now applying. It’s not about the last couple of weeks — it’s about the clueless handling of the relationship from the beginning, starting with the “reset” button that blamed Bush for chilly relations with Russia after the invasion of Georgia.

The chart supplied by the Post demonstrates the problem for Obama:

wapo-abc-poll-ukraine

Even though Obama now follows popular opinion on the policy, he’s falling way below the line on his own performance. Forget Republicans and Democrats for the moment — look at independents, who support Obama’s policy response (53%), yet Obama can’t even get to 40% with independents on his own performance (37%, and only 10% “strongly”). That 16-point disconnect is the difference between policy in the moment, and policy over time.

By the way, Obama had better hope that Europe sticks with the sanctions. If the EU bails on penalizing Putin, the approval for those policies drop to 40% overall, and only 33% among independents.

Meanwhile, the Baltic states are getting nervous, but Germany has reassured them that Europe will come to their aid:

The three ex-Soviet Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia can count on the security provided by their membership of NATO and the EU, Germany said Tuesday amid East-West tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.

“I am here to say that the Baltic states will not be left alone. This is a joint problem for NATO and the EU,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Tallinn, Estonia, ahead of talks in neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania.

Russia’s moves to absorb Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula have rattled nerves in all three Baltic states that joined NATO and the EU to guarantee their security a decade ago after breaking free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.

So far, they’re on board with sanctions. So far:

In an official translation from German to English, Steinmeier added: “If there is no change in Russian tactics until the weekend, the EU foreign ministers will decide about further measures at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.”

The top German diplomat did not elaborate but France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday that sanctions against Moscow could come as early as this week if Moscow does not respond to Western proposals to solve the crisis in Ukraine.

Fabius said the sanctions would involve “freezing personal assets of Russians or Ukrainians and sanctions on travel, regarding visas.”

We’ll see.


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When Tsar Bomba is asploded over an American population centre, are these tribalist leftist orgs going to be polling the melted, dead, and shadows?

Murphy9 on March 11, 2014 at 10:43 AM

The E.U. will not support sanctions of any kind because Gazprom. I oppose sanctions too for other reasons.

Videos From Ukraine that The U.S. Media Will Never Show You

casuist on March 11, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Seems as if the commenting at HA is subdued today…eggshells?

d1carter on March 11, 2014 at 10:46 AM

That photo looks an awful lot like a sniper shooting at her. Anyone that still thinks Shrillary is anything other than an incompetent, power hungry, lying sack of crap is a moron.

Flange on March 11, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Well, things are certainly getting interesting when the Germans talk about supporting Slavic nations against Russian aggression.

Dog Eater is whacking the living hell out of that reset button and yelling, “Dammit! WORK!”

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 10:49 AM

In an official translation from German to English, Steinmeier added: “If there is no change in Russian tactics until the weekend, the EU foreign ministers will decide about further measures at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.”

Not Austrian to English? I make the jest for one reason only. To point out just how stupid Obama has been about foreign affairs from the very first minute of his failed administration? Educated people who should be in charge of such things don’t (seriously) talk about speaking Austrian, or encourage Argentina to continue fighting for the Maldives, or locate Hawaii in Asia.

Obama has only cared about partisan domestic issues and has virtually ignored the rest of the world. Killary saw the coming disasters and bailed before her own incompetence came fully to light. So, Russia gets to expand its borders without a lazy stupid coward in DC doing nothing but go off on a vacation at a resort costing $2500/night.

Happy Nomad on March 11, 2014 at 10:53 AM

He’s only underwater because he’s over his head.

Brian Mallard on March 11, 2014 at 10:54 AM

All Obama does is golf. He should be underwater on everything.
Hell he ought to be at zero support. How he is not is unfathomable.

ORconservative on March 11, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Whatever happens in that part of the world….

Obama will take credit and the media will salivate over The One…

Electrongod on March 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Dog Eater is whacking the living hell out of that reset button and yelling, “Dammit! WORK!”

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 10:49 AM

What do you suppose the rat-eared wonder is going to say when the Ukrainian PM shows up tomorrow? There really isn’t much in the way of assurances that he can make.

Happy Nomad on March 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

What do you suppose the rat-eared wonder is going to say when the Ukrainian PM shows up tomorrow? There really isn’t much in the way of assurances that he can make.

Happy Nomad on March 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

He’ll probably hand him a set of DVD’s with recordings of his speeches that won’t play on a European player.

Deano1952 on March 11, 2014 at 11:05 AM

“Germany reassures the Baltic states.”

*tilt-stare*

Axe on March 11, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Seems as if the commenting at HA is subdued today…eggshells?

d1carter on March 11, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Someone here been making omelets?

de rigueur on March 11, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Next up for PrezO, Mexico annexes California, Arizona, New Mexico and most of Texas to protect “ethnic Mexicans” living there.

OccamsRazor on March 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM

“poll shows Obama underwater on Ukraine crisis, Russia”

Not unexpected for the Chief Scum-sucking Bottom Dweller. His nick is Mom Ass or Captain Kick in the Jeans or something, not Bullhead for a reason.

Dusty on March 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

No one wants to go to war to keep Crimea Ukrainian, not even the Ukrainians.

no one wanted to go to war over the Sudetenland either. how’d that work out????

chasdal on March 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Team SMART Power will be doing nothing other than lots of talking. I don’t even think they will get to the dreaded “Strongly Worded Letter” stage. I see lots of “ummm”s, “errrrr”s, and “ahhh”s in what will be touted as the most statesman like speeches ever given by the smartest man in the universe’s history.

In the end Putin will crotch punch Obama and have total control of whatever he wants. The MSM will crow that undoing Reagan’s win of the USSR is a super win for team SMART Power. Sadly it will be a real loss for the Ukraine and all the other Baltic states. Poland and Czechoslovakia might remain free.

jukin3 on March 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Putin Adviser Publishes Plan for Domination of Europe

Resist We Much on March 11, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Did that plan come out of the WH? Obama would like that plan. Anything to reduce America’s standing in the world is a feature and not bug.

jukin3 on March 11, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Instead of sanctions, which accomplish very little, just use indirect methods to hurt Putin and Russia. Like:

(1) Missile Defense Shield in Poland
(2) Selling or even giving as aid high end military weapons and equipment to Poland and the Baltic States
(3) Start opening energy exports from the U.S. to Europe
(4) Arm (and help) the rebels in Venezuela to overthrow the government. If we are going to do it now is the time considering Russia is friendly with that regime and putting military assets there. As good as an excuse as one could get.

The direct methods of sanctions or directly contesting Russia over Ukranian territory is not the answer because frankly that is what Putin wants. The indirect method is the better approach.

William Eaton on March 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM

This pisses me the Hell off.

Aš esu amerikietis bet mano širdis lietuviškas…

affenhauer on March 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

1) The Ukrainian PM will be treated as badly or worse than Netanyahu when he visits. Probably more like Czech President Beneš was treated by the British, Germans, Italians, and French when they carved up his country in 1938.

2) Looking at the politics of Germany; let alone France, Italy, and Britain, any promise by NATO to defend the Baltic countries needs to be filed under “fiction” if not “fantasy”. Buraq Hussein would not get involved except to help the Russians.

3) Ukraine has indicated that it regrets giving up the nuclear weapons left over from the FSU in return for international promises about guaranteeing its territorial integrity. And that it needs to get nuclear weapons again, ASAP.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear power plants [the Chernobyl complex is shut down and not counted], 6 of which are in southern Ukraine and subject to immediate Russian seizure. They are of Russian design, and likely can be adapted to produce fissionable material for enrichment and fabrication into a quick and dirty bomb. I suspect that the enrichment will be the problem for Ukraine since they do not have a reprocessing plant. If you have the weapons grade material, fabrication is possible if you are willing to accept the casualties in the name of national survival.

Also, nuclear weapons includes the concept of a dirty bomb that just scatters radioactive materials, which is technologically easier and quicker to fabricate. And if it appears that the Russians are about to over-run the entire country; in addition to destroying the entire natural gas pipeline network to Europe as part of a scorched earth policy, a Ukraine that believes itself to be abandoned by the West and about to be occupied could create 9 simultaneous equivalents of the Chernobyl disaster; rendering the Ukraine uninhabitable.

Not sure what the prevailing winds are, but being downwind would be a glow in the dark nightmare.

Subotai Bahadur on March 11, 2014 at 2:04 PM

…he can’t swim…anywhere!

KOOLAID2 on March 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM