There is good news to report. And two reasons we can find an uplift with the same evidence from the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
First, there is a foundation of resolve within the American public to stand with Ukraine, and take some of the blowbacks from economic pain that must be placed on Russia. Second, President Biden is showing leadership that resonates with the nation.
Last week, an hour after President Biden’s SOTU I wrote, Though the colors of the flag being rallied around are yellow and blue, Biden is surely hoping the effect will benefit his administration.
Polling data shows that to be the case.
Here’s a look at some of the Marist numbers:
- Overall approval rating jumped to 47%, up 8 points from the NPR poll last month. Presidents don’t generally see much, if any bounce, out of a State of the Union address. Since 1978, there had only been six times when a president saw an approval rating improve 4 points or more following State of the Union addresses. Three of those bounces were for former President Bill Clinton.
- Ukraine handling is up 18 points to 52%.
- Coronavirus pandemic handling is now 55%, up 8 points.
- Economic handling up 8 points to 45%.
Now, as to why these numbers matter.
First, as a decades-long admirer and supporter of Joe Biden, I want to see him succeed in the Oval Office. While no presidency is easy, the array of issues and pitfalls that awaited Biden due to the previous four years of unmitigated disaster and chaos made for an all-uphill climb. No matter which Democratic candidate had entered office in January 2021 they would have been severely tested.
Biden’s desktop had myriad issues to deal with, all at once. From pressing for coherent and much-needed COVID policies, pushing forward with a national and-oh-so-vital infrastructure bill, removing our footprint in Afghanistan, while working to reassure alliances and international organizations that America is not becoming isolationist. (Recall Donald Trump continually demeaning and undermining NATO.)
Then two weeks ago came the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation. There is no nuanced way to view this war started by Russian President Putin. This is an international disaster. A true issue of up-and-down, black and white, good and evil.
And the polling data shows the American public understands the gravity of the matter. This is something I applaud but did not necessarily take for granted, due to the less than thoughtful way much of the public has handled policy issues since 2015.
I am very pleased that this poll, along with others shows the American public does understand we will need to do more to support Ukraine. A Quinnipiac poll last week found that 45% of Americans in the days following the barbaric invasion of Ukraine felt the U.S. was doing too little to help the besieged nation.
The Marist poll had data to show what must be continued among the electorate moving forward.
Data shows 83% of Americans support the economic sanctions imposed against Russia by the United States and its allies. The poll also underscores Americans are willing to make sacrifices in support of Ukraine. 69% of Americans, including 58% of Republicans, say they support economic sanctions against Russia even if it results in higher energy prices in the United States.
Last week I posted my analysis following President Biden’s SOTU. This is what I wrote.
Biden has not only the responsibility of leadership on his shoulders but also the opportunity for this moment to make the man. Biden is meeting his moment with history, and if history is a guide the public will respond. CBS polling before the speech showed Ukraine was the number one issue Americans wanted to hear Biden address. That topic was ahead of both inflation and COVID.
How and why Ukraine matters to the nation is what Biden excelled at in his national address. Not only energy prices and NATO are at stake, but also the values surrounding democracy.
The brutality from Putin, the military along with day-to-day living needs of Ukraine, and the testing of democratic institutions and governments are all matters that are vital for this moment and our future. President Biden is using the powers of his office to work with international players, foster ways to limit economic stresses at home, and defeat the dangerous madman who works to snuff out a democratic Ukraine.
The poll shows what leadership can accomplish abroad, and at home.
And so it goes.