Americans remain critical of Biden's handling of inflation, support ban on Russian oil: POLL

Seventy percent of Americans disapprove of Biden's handling of inflation.

March 13, 2022, 9:03 AM

Americans overwhelmingly support the White House's proposed ban on Russian oil, though they remain very critical of President Joe Biden's handling of the economy, in general, and inflation, in particular, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

Over the past several months, Americans' wallets have been hit by skyrocketing inflation, and now, Biden is feeling that crunch in his approval numbers. Seventy percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of inflation.

The White House faces similarly concerning numbers related to economic recovery, with 58% disapproving, a 12-month high, per the ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel. This presents a political problem for Biden, who must navigate an electorate growing more frustrated across several sectors, while attempting to manage an exploding war in Europe with firmness and authority.

The numbers for Biden's handling of Ukraine are slightly better, with a 48%-51% approval-disapproval split. When it comes to who is responsible for the hostilities, 4 out of 5 Americans pin "a great deal" of blame for the war on Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to ABC News/Ipsos data. Fewer assign "a great deal" of blame to Biden (16%) or former President Donald Trump (13%). Even fewer -- only 6% -- put a "great deal" of responsibility on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

President Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine's president, meet in the Oval Office of the White House, Sept. 1, 2021.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

With Putin's ownership of the war, Biden has tried to cast the Russian leader as responsible for the challenges Americans are facing at the gas pump and in the grocery store, drawing ire from Republicans who pin the fault for these ills squarely on the White House.

"Make no mistake, inflation's largely the fault of Putin," Biden said Friday at a meeting of House Democrats in Philadelphia.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing earlier this month: "The reason why the price of gas is going up is not because of steps the president has taken, they are because President Putin is invading Ukraine, and that is creating a great deal of instability in the global marketplace."

But many senior members of the GOP, despite their commitments to back a White House ban of Russian oil, simply aren't buying the administration's inflation rational, and instead blame Biden and his administration for an "over reliance" on foreign energy sources and early administrative climate change measures like the shuttering of the Keystone Pipeline coupled with stopping new oil and gas leases on federal property.

"These are not Putin gas prices. They are President Biden gas prices," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted Friday.

Still, Biden's defense may face challenges with the American people. According to ABC News/Ipsos data, 70% of Americans disapprove of Biden's handling of gas prices, though even more respondents -- 77% -- support his proposal to ban Russian oil, even if it means paying more at the pump.

The public is divided on a hypothetical no-fly zone over Ukraine, a provocation toward Russia that White House officials signaled they are not considering at this time. Thirty-one percent support a no-fly zone, while 34% oppose it and another 34% do not know their stance on such an action.

Gas prices of more than $7.00 per gallon are posted at a downtown Los Angeles gas station, March 9, 2022.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Both this and the question on banning Russian oil imports yielded rare partisan unity, with similar levels of support, opposition and uncertainty among self-described Republicans, Democrats and independents. Regarding banning oil imports, 88% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans and 78% of independents supported the notion, while 12% of Democrats, 27% of Republicans, and 22% of independents oppose.

Meanwhile, Americans are warming to Biden's handling of other issues that have faded from the news cycle due to the escalating war. As mask and vaccine mandates wane across every state, regardless of political leanings, Biden is seeing an uptick in approval of his handling of COVID-19 to 56%, up six points from January. He's also seen a similar bump in his handling of crime, which now stands at 40% approval.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs' KnowledgePanel® March 11-12, 2022, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 622 adults with an oversample of LGBTQ+ respondents weighted to their correct proportion in the general population. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.4 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 27-26-40%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll's topline results and details on the methodology here.

ABC News' Dan Merkle and Ken Goldstein contributed to this report.