A new Reuters/IPSOS poll shows a growing number of Americans seeing US-Russia relations as “back to the old days of the Cold War,” with far more Americans seeing the Russian Federation as a bigger threat after the 2016 election campaign.
It should come as no surprise, of course, as the Clinton campaign spent the better part of the election claiming Russia was “hacking the vote,” and hysteria around US-Russia hostilities seemed to grow precipitously every day through the election, and continued as a headline story well after the vote itself.
The polls show exactly what the campaign did to the American psyche, however, with a nearly 10% increase in the number of Americans identifying Russia as a “threat to the United States” between early 2015 and today. It’s worth noting that the early 2015 figures were themselves already heightened by hype surrounding the East Ukraine civil war, and claims by US officials that a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe was imminent.
Distrust of Russians survived beyond the Cold War for many Americans, but in general US-Russia hostility hadn’t penetrated into the panic mode levels of current polling data since the fall of the Soviet Union. The growing US military buildups in Eastern Europe and conflicting strategies of the US and Russia in Syria led to a growing amount of vilification of the Putin government.
The election took everything up another notch or two, with the Clinton campaign blaming Russia for hacking of Democratic Party servers, accusing Presidnet-elect Donald Trump of being a “Russian puppet,” and blaming Russia for their loss in the election itself.
It is ironic, then, that a week ahead of Trump taking office, and with an agreement reportedly already in place to normalize US-Russian ties, we are simultaneously facing the worst US fear of Russia in a generation on the eve of what is likely to be considerably better Russo-American relations.