Four in 10 Americans see Russia as an enemy of the United States, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, the largest share to say so since CNN polls began asking the question in 1999. And nearly 6 in 10 say Donald Trump has been too friendly toward Russia.
Trump’s diplomatic foibles in managing the US’ relationship with major allies hasn’t done much to change the public’s views of those allies. Broad majorities see Great Britain (90%), France (90%) and Germany (85%) as allies or at least friendly to the US, and three-quarters say the same about Israel (75%), all largely unchanged since before Trump’s time in office.
CNN's August Poll
But the share who see North Korea, Iran and Russia as enemies has grown. Overall, 59% call North Korea an enemy (up from 55% in 2014 and the most to say so since CNN first asked in 2000) and 41% consider Russia an enemy of the US (up from 25% saying so in 2014 and a high since the measure was first taken in 1999).
Both those shifts follow high-profile meetings between the President and the leaders of those countries, and in the poll, are largely due to increases in the share of Democrats considering the country an enemy. On Russia, 56% of Democrats call Russia an enemy, up from 20% in 2014, and on North Korea, 61% of Democrats now consider it an enemy, up from 53% in 2014.
Republicans are behind the increased “enemy” numbers for Iran, however, with 67% of Republicans now saying Iran is an enemy, up from 58% in 2014.
The public largely disapproves of the way the President is handling foreign affairs – 55% say they disapprove and 40% approve – but their read on how he’s handling individual relationships varies widely.
Majorities of Americans say Trump has been “about right” in his handling of the US’ relationship with major European allies (60% on France, 59% on Great Britain and 55% on Germany), as well as with Israel (55% about right). But those who say the president has made missteps tend to say he’s been too tough on the European allies (30% too tough vs. 7% too friendly on Germany; 27% too tough vs. 6% too friendly on Great Britain; and 23% too tough to 9% too friendly on France), and too friendly with Israel (23% too friendly to 13% too tough).
His handling of the US relationship with less friendly nations comes in for more criticism.
Almost 6 in 10 say the President has been too friendly with Russia (57%) while around a third consider it “about right” (35%). Fewer, 43% say he’s been too friendly with North Korea and 42% call that relationship about right. There’s a near even split on whether the President has been too tough (24%) or too friendly (21%) in dealing with China. And the judgment tilts toward “too tough” on his handling of Iran (24% vs. 18% too friendly).
There are sharp partisan differences in each of these measures, with majorities of Republicans calling Trump’s diplomacy about right in each case. Russia is the low point among the president’s partisans, and even there, 70% consider his handling of the relationship about right. Among Democrats, Trump gets his best marks for his handling of France, which 42% in that party consider about right.
Poll interviewing took place in the days following the imposition of new sanctions on Russia in response to the poisoning of a former Russian agent and his daughter in the UK earlier this year.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS August 9-12 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.