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Vladimir Putin’s favorability rating has taken an amazing turn among Republicans since Donald Trump began praising the Russian president.
According to a YouGov/Economist poll, Putin’s favorability rating in July 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea, was -54 among Democrats and -66 among Republicans.
A poll from the same outlets released in August 2016 showed that Putin’s favorability rating among Democrats remained identical. But the Russian leader’s rating among Republicans improved dramatically, from -66 to -27.
That’s likely at least partially a byproduct of Trump, the Republican nominee, heaping praise on Putin as a strong leader and comparing him favorably with US President Barack Obama.
Taking a closer look, in the 2014 poll, 3% of Republicans had very favorable views of Putin in addition to 7% who had somewhat favorable views. That poll showed that 25% of Republicans had somewhat unfavorable views, while a whopping 51% had very unfavorable views of Putin.
The August 2016 poll showed that some of those numbers took a drastic swing.
In that survey, the percentage of Republicans who viewed him very unfavorably dipped from 51% to 22%, and those who viewed him somewhat favorably increased from 7% to 19%. In addition, the percentage of Republicans who answered that they didn’t know how they felt increased from 15% to 26%.
Trump again heaped praise on Putin during NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday.
“He is really very much of a leader,” Trump said of Putin. “You can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing,’ I mean, the man has very strong control over his country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”