For the first time since the Boris Yeltsin era, more Americans have a negative view of Russia than a positive one, according to a new Gallup poll.
The survey, conducted this month, asked respondents whether they considered Russia an ally of the United States, friendly but not an ally, unfriendly, or an enemy. 44% of participants said they view Russia as an ally or a friendly nation, but 50% report perceiving Russia as an unfriendly nation or an enemy.
This is a marked turnaround from just three months ago, the last time Gallup asked this question, when 52% of Americans said they viewed Russia favorably.
Pollster Art Swift notes that this disapproval comes despite Vladimir Putin's "obvious interest" in cultivating a positive image among Americans.
Of course, Russia's barbaric crackdown on its LGBT citizens isn't the only factor responsible for this shift in public opinion:
The more negative views of Russia come after a series of international events involving Russia, including not only the conflict in Syria, but also Russia's granting former NSA contractor Edward Snowden temporary asylum, and its new restrictions on gay and lesbian rights. Additionally, President Putin published an op-ed in the New York Times last week, chastising American foreign policy and suggesting that U.S. President Barack Obama's statement of American exceptionalism was "extremely dangerous."
But the survey shows that 55% of Americans are aware of Russia's anti-LGBT laws (to put that number in perspective, that's more than can correctly identify Syria on a map). And of those who are aware, a whopping 69% disapprove of Russia's policies; just 13% approve. That's a landslide, folks.
Clearly, with 45% of Americans unaware of how Russia persecutes its LGBT citizens, equality advocates have our work cut out for us. But the fact that this many Americans are already paying attention to Russia's anti-LGBT pogrom -- and disapprove of it by a more than 5-to-1 margin -- shows that the flurry of protests, boycotts, boycott threats, op-eds, and blog posts over the past several months are doing exactly what they're intended to do: raise awareness of the plight of Russian LGBT people and cast a harsh spotlight on the homophobic, transphobic Putin government that's enacting these draconian policies.
In short, naysayers and armchair activists notwithstanding, our efforts are working. Let's keep up the pressure.
Graphic via Scott Wooledge, Memeographs Studio.