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Sunday, September 25, 2022

As war in Ukraine continues, Americans’ concerns about it have lessened

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Supporters of Ukraine march in front of the White House in Lafayette Square on August 27, 2022.
Supporters of Ukraine march in front of the White House in Lafayette Square on August 27, 2022. (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Seven months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and following Ukraine’s recent retaking of substantial ground from Russian forces – Americans express less concern than they did in the spring about Ukraine being defeated by Russia and about the war expanding into other countries.

A bar chart showing that Americans are less concerned than in May about the possibilities of Ukrainian defeat and expanded conflict

The share of U.S. adults who are extremely or very concerned about a Ukrainian defeat is down 17 percentage points since May, falling from 55% then to 38% today. Roughly a quarter (26%) say they are not too concerned or not at all concerned about Russia defeating Ukraine, up from 16% earlier this year. An additional 34% are somewhat concerned about this, compared with 28% who said so in May, according to a Pew Research Center among 10,588 U.S. adults, conducted Sept. 13-18 — in the days prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s September 21 announced mobilization of several hundred thousand additional Russian reservists to fight in Ukraine.

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand Americans’ views of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. For this analysis, we surveyed 10,588 U.S. adults between September 13 and 18, 2022. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and its methodology.

With the conflict front and center at the UN General Assembly meetings this week, concern about the possibility of U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine leading to a broader war with Russia has also declined. Around a third of adults (32%) say they are extremely or very concerned about this, down from 49% in May. Concern about Russia invading other countries in the region – not just Ukraine – has also decreased: 41% of adults are currently extremely or very concerned about this, down from 59% in the spring.

With shelling from the war reaching the vicinity of Ukrainian nuclear power plants in recent months, more than four-in-ten Americans (44%) say they are extremely or very concerned about the possibility of a major nuclear accident at one of Ukraine’s power plants. A somewhat similar share (40%) express concern about the conflict leading to severe energy shortages in Europe this winter.

A quarter of adults currently say they are following news about the war extremely or very closely, down from 36% in May.

Attitudes about U.S. support for Ukraine

Only about two-in-ten Americans (18%) now say the United States is not providing enough support to Ukraine in the conflict. This represents a stark shift from earlier in the war: In March, just after the conflict began, 42% said the U.S. was not providing enough support.

A bar chart showing that Republicans are now more likely to say the U.S. is providing too much support to Ukraine than providing too little

Nearly four-in-ten (37%) now say the U.S. is providing about the right amount of support to Ukraine in the conflict, while 20% say it is providing too much support – up from just 7% who said this in March. About a quarter (24%) say they are not sure.

Three-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents currently say the U.S. is providing about the right among of support for Ukraine, while a similar share (32%) say the U.S. is providing too much support. Just 16% now say it is not providing enough support. By contrast, in March, about half of Republicans (49%) said the U.S. was not providing enough support, and just 9% said it was providing too much.

The share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who say the U.S. is not providing enough support to Ukraine has also declined, falling to 20% from 38% in March. But only about one-in-ten Democrats (11%) now say the U.S. is providing too much support. More than four-in-ten Democrats (45%) say the U.S. is providing about the right amount of support to Ukraine, up modestly from the share who said this in both March and May.

Partisan differences in concerns about the conflict

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to express a high level of concern about several possibilities that might arise from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

A bar chart showing that Democrats express more concern than Republicans about the possibilities of a nuclear accident at a Ukrainian power plant and energy shortages in Europe this winter

About half of Democrats (52%) are extremely or very concerned about the conflict leading to a major nuclear accident at one of Ukraine’s power plants, compared with 37% of Republicans.

Democrats are also more likely than Republicans to be extremely or very concerned about Russia invading other countries in the region (47% vs. 35%), severe energy shortages in Europe this winter (46% vs. 36%) and Ukraine being defeated and taken over by Russia (45% vs. 32%).

Democrats and Republicans express similar levels of concern about U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine leading to a U.S. war with Russia. A third of Democrats and roughly the same share of Republicans (31%) are either extremely or very concerned about this. 

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and its methodology.

Andrew Daniller  is a research associate focusing on politics at Pew Research Center.

Andy Cerda  is a research assistant focusing on politics at Pew Research Center.

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