What Trump's comments in Helsinki may do to his approval rating

"Foreign policy was already a sort of weak spot for this president. What I think might be different this time is the level of Republicans who have come out to criticize him," says Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson.

Posted: Jul 18, 2018 2:36 PM
Updated: Jul 18, 2018 2:45 PM

The American public has never liked Russia but their views have only grown darker since Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, in spite of President Donald Trump's attempt to warm relations.

Just 11% of Americans had favorable views of Russia in a June CNN poll and 72% had unfavorable views.

According to Gallup's polling this year, the highest number of Americans have unfavorable views of Russia since it began polling in 1989, two years before the Soviet Union fell. In February, 72% said they had unfavorable views of the country, compared with a quarter who thought of it in a favorable light.

There was a small rise in views on Russia during the ill-fated Obama-era attempt to "reset" US-Russia relations, but the bump didn't last long. Right after 2009, when the meeting between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov occurred, favorability increased for Russia, pushing up to 50% in the United States.

But by 2013, it was falling again in Americans' eyes. Favorability for Russia went from 50% to 24% over two years. Since then, unfavorable levels have increased.

According to a Quinnipiac poll taken in March a majority (55%) of US voters said Russia was an adversary of the US. Only 3% saw Russia as an ally and 38% said it was neither. That's an increase since January 2017 -- starting at 46% adversary, 9% ally, and 41% neither.

The real change took place among Republicans. Even among Trump's party, only 6% said Russia was an ally in the March poll. However, back in January 2017, 19% of Republicans viewed the country as an ally, towering over 4% of Democrats and 7% of independents.

Views of Russian President Vladimir Putin did see a temporary spike in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, Republicans had a huge jump in favorability on Putin -- from 13% in 2014 to 23% in 2017, according to CNN polls. But recently they were back down to 14%.

Even Democrats experienced some turbulence, with their numbers on Putin moving from 6% favorability to 11% and back down to 6%.

All those polls, however, were taken before Trump's controversial summit with Putin on Monday.

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