February 5, 2014

Most Americans have negative view of Putin as Sochi games begin

58%

About six-in-ten Americans have an unfavorable view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a Washington Post/ABC News survey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin worked hard to get the International Olympic Committee to award this year’s winter games to Russia and then plowed about $51 billion to turn the Black Sea resort of Sochi, with its subtropical climate, into a fitting site. But if the Russian leader hoped to burnish his country’s image, and his own, the effort has fallen short —at least, with the U.S. public.

About six-in-ten (58%) Americans expressed an unfavorable view of Putin compared with 27% who saw him favorably, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News survey.

The poll also found that just half of Americans have a favorable impression of this year’s event while 40% have an unfavorable view. By comparison, 72% of Americans had a favorable view of the 2012 summer Olympics held in London, the survey noted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) tries an Olympic volunteers uniform, visiting an equipment centre in Sochi on January 4, 2014. Credit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) tries an Olympic volunteers uniform, visiting an equipment center in Sochi on January 4, 2014. Credit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images

A  Pew Research Center survey conducted at about the same time as the Post/ABC News poll asked whether Americans thought it had been a mistake to award the games to Russia. The survey found that 44% of Americans thought it was a bad decision compared to 32% who saw it as a good one, with the rest expressing no opinion. Among those who thought it was a bad decision, 62% cited security concerns. (The New York Times showcased a front page story on Wednesday headlined, “An Olympics in the Shadow of a War Zone”).

Russia also had to deal with bad publicity about Russia’s anti-gay policies, although the Pew Research survey found that, among Americans who thought holding the games in Russia was a mistake, only 4% cited that country’s treatment of gays and lesbians.

As for Putin’s standing with Americans, he has presided over a chilly period of relations with the U.S. since his return to the presidency in 2012. A Pew Research survey conducted last Oct. 30-Nov.6 found Russia near the bottom of a list of 12 countries when it came to how Americans viewed them. Just 32% had a favorable view of Russia, putting it just ahead of the least positively viewed country, Saudi Arabia (27%) and about the same as China (33%).

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a Senior Editor at the Pew Research Center.

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1 Comment

  1. Ron6 months ago

    I was not asked in any survey.
    Do not have unfavorable opinion of Putin.

    Reply