First-ever Vanderbilt Unity Poll reveals 52% of MAGA Republicans believe Vladimir Putin is a better president than Joe Biden

Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy releases results measuring Americans’ unity, beliefs on government and democracy 

The results of the first Vanderbilt Unity Poll, released today, show that 52 percent of MAGA-identifying Republicans believe Russia’s Vladimir Putin is a better president than Joe Biden. 

Only about 18 percent of the American public (and 38 percent of all Republicans) identify as MAGAites. That means the vast majority of Americans (81 percent) believe that Joe Biden is the better president, including more than 70 percent of non-MAGA identifying Republicans. 

The Vanderbilt Unity Poll is a new undertaking of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy. It will provide quarterly readings of Americans’ opinions about the extent of polarization and the condition of our democratic institutions, said John Geer, director of the Vanderbilt Unity Poll and Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. 

Unsurprisingly, the first Vanderbilt Unity Poll shows that 87 percent of Americans believe the country is somewhat or mostly divided. “Even so, a majority of Americans (57 percent), when viewing current challenges through the lens of American history, remain confident that our democratic institutions can overcome today’s challenges,” Geer said. “In other words, we have real and serious disagreements, but we can come together if needed. Interestingly, partisans on both sides of the aisle held similar views of these matters. Republicans and Democrats agree that we disagree.” 

We also find clear partisan differences in the values of Americans. Over 50 percent of Republicans identified “individual freedoms” as the top value from a list of five. Four of ten Democrats choose equality as their top value. 

The key takeaways from these survey data include: 

  • The overwhelming majority of Americans (87 percent) believe that our nation is divided “when it comes to the most pressing issues facing the country today.” 
  • More than half of Americans (57 percent) are confident that the country can overcome the challenges facing America today, based on the history of the United States. 
  • However, when asked a similar question without the reference to American history, Americans were not as confident: Republicans (64 percent), Democrats (59 percent), and Independents (61 percent) believe it is unlikely the country will unite to solve important problems. 
  • Even though only 19 percent of respondents answered Vladimir Putin when asked, “Overall, who do you think is a better president—Joe Biden or Vladimir Putin,” 52 percent of self-identifying MAGA Republicans selected Vladimir Putin. 

Future Vanderbilt Unity Polls will ask the same questions, which will allow the Unity Poll to look for change in these indicators. For example, it will be important to see if citizens become more or less optimistic about America’s ability to solve pressing problems. It is essential that the Unity Poll commit to assessing the thinking of the public over time, which will allow the Unity Poll to set a better context for interpretation of the results. 

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy also sponsors the Vanderbilt Unity Index. The Vanderbilt Unity Poll should provide regular snapshots of Americans’ sense of national political unity and their faith in the country’s democratic institutions, Geer said. 

The Vanderbilt Unity Poll was conducted by SSRS on its Opinion Panel Omnibus Platform. A total of 1,027 respondents, ages 18 and older, across several platforms and in Spanish and English, responded between March 3 and March 7, 2023. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 at the 95 percent confidence level.