WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than two-thirds of Americans, 68%, say they are paying "very" or "somewhat" close attention to Russia's involvement in the situation in Ukraine. This is somewhat higher than the 61% of Americans who have paid close attention to key news events Gallup has asked about over the past two decades, but about in line with the level of attention paid to other recent international events, such as the political crisis in Egypt in 2011.
These data, collected March 6-9, as Russian forces continued to control several Ukrainian military sites, suggest that these events have generated above-average attention from most Americans, compared with other news events Gallup has asked about since 1991. Attention to the crisis in Ukraine is on par with the attention paid to such events as the crises in Egypt in February 2011 (69% paying close attention) and Libya in March 2011 (71%) but below attention to the killing of Osama bin Laden (83%) or the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (87%). By comparison, the events in Gallup's database that garnered the highest levels of attention were the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the beginning of the war with Iraq in 2003, all of which at least 95% of Americans were following closely.
Older Americans Following Situation in Ukraine More Closely Than Younger Americans
Older Americans report paying more attention than younger Americans to Russia's involvement in the situation in Ukraine. Eighty-two percent of those 65 or older report they are paying "very" or "somewhat" close attention, compared with 49% of those aged 18 to 29.
The size of the generational gap in attention paid to the situation in Ukraine is approximately the same as it has been for other recent international events, suggesting that this gap likely reflects younger Americans' relative indifference toward international events, rather than older generations' memory of Russian aggression during the Cold War.
Majority of Americans Worry That Ukraine Situation Could Lead to U.S. Military Involvement
Two-thirds of Americans report they are "very" or "somewhat" worried that the current political crisis in Ukraine could develop into a larger regional conflict, leading to U.S. military action. Those who report they are following the news about the crisis closely are more likely to say they are worried than those who are not following the news closely. Younger adults are slightly less likely to be worried than those who are older.
As interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk plans to travel to the U.S. to meet with President Barack Obama this week, and as Crimea prepares for a referendum on whether to join Russia, Americans are paying more attention to news of the crisis in that country than they have, on average, for major news stories in recent decades. Additionally, the majority of Americans are at least somewhat concerned over the prospect that the U.S. military may become involved in the region as a result of the situation.
As Gallup has previously reported, Americans' favorability ratings of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, have recently dropped to record lows. If Russia's aggression toward Ukraine continues, Americans' image of the country and its president may fall even further.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 6-9, 2014, with a random sample of 1,048 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.