“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said in Warsaw, Poland, at the end of a forceful speech seeking to steel the global community for the fight ahead.
Although many within the Beltway were quick to seize on Biden’s remark as a gaffe, the new polling conducted March 31 to April 4 shows that Biden was in fact in step with the sentiment of roughly two-thirds of the American public.
The president, however, didn’t fare as well when the survey attached his name to the statement.
Even though 63% agreed with the unattributed statement, that number shrank to a plurality of 48% when respondents were asked whether Biden was “right or wrong” to have made the statement; 29% said Biden was “wrong” to make the remark. But even then, Biden’s statement was in net-plus territory by 19 points.
Naturally, Republicans accounted for most of the cohort that turned on a dime once they found out President Biden had made the statement. At first, Republicans agreed with the statement 57%-21%, a 36-point margin. But as soon as Biden’s name was injected, Republicans said he was wrong by 9 points, 46%-37%. That’s a net shift of 45 points.
Biden also lost 13 points among Democrats, with 83% originally supporting the statement but 70% ultimately saying Biden was wrong to say it.
The White House sought to clarify the unscripted statement almost immediately after Biden uttered it. The president was not endorsing “regime change,” a spokesperson noted at the time.
But when reporters later peppered the president with questions about the remark, he was defiant.
“I’m not walking anything back,” Biden said at a White House press conference. “I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing and the actions of this man—just the brutality of it, half the children in Ukraine. I had just come from being with those families.”
Political polarization aside, the fact remains that the American public is largely in agreement with the U.S. effort to flow as much weaponry and aid to Ukraine as possible without igniting World War III.
The poll suggests President Biden has a lot of latitude to bolster Ukraine’s valiant resistance and its right to self-determination. Whatever Americans might tell a pollster, their hearts are with Ukraine. That sentiment has likely only deepened after several days of horrifying revelations about mass graves of civilians, point-blank executions, and other unimaginable Russian atrocities.