More Americans Are Confident In Zelensky Than Biden, Study Finds
Following his bold displays of defiance against the Kremlin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky enjoys the confidence of 72% of Americans, eclipsing U.S. President Joe Biden’s 48% confidence rating and establishing himself as a figure with strong bipartisan popularity, according to Pew Research Center data published Wednesday.
Until 2019 a comedian and actor with little recognition outside Ukraine and Russia, Zelensky is now one of the most popular international leaders among Americans, outshining French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a 55% confidence rating, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had a 53% confidence rating, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had a 15% confidence rating, Pew found.
Pew found Zelensky most popular among older people—with an 86% confidence rate among people age 65 and older, compared to 63% among people age 18-29—and more educated people—with an 82% confidence rate among people with postgraduate degrees, compared to 67% among people with a high school diploma or less, mirroring demographic approval patterns for the Biden Administration’s response to Russia’s invasion.
Zelensky also enjoys strong bipartisan confidence—67% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 80% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents voiced confidence in Zelensky, while Biden proved the most divisive leader on the list, with a confidence rating of just 16% among Republicans but 75% among Democrats.
There was also little division on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had an overall confidence rating of 6%, down from 33% in 2006—polling released Wednesday showed that just 7% of Republicans and 5% of Democrats were confident Putin would handle world affairs appropriately, nearly closing a partisan divide that opened during the Trump Administration, when confidence in Putin was consistently much higher among Republicans than Democrats.
Pew’s study was conducted from March 21-27 and included responses from 3,581 randomly selected U.S. adults.
Before his landslide win in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, Zelensky was known for providing the Ukrainian-language voice of Paddington Bear, for a vulgar comedy skit in which he appeared to play the piano with a part of his anatomy and for starring in the satirical TV series Servant of the People, in which he portrayed an everyman unexpectedly elected president. Following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky won plaudits for his hands-on leadership style, taking to the streets of a besieged Kyiv to deliver defiant messages to the Kremlin. Zelensky’s urgent and straightforward messaging style has contrasted to Putin’s televised diatribes, which have included unlikely claims that Ukraine is a Nazi-infilitrated state and is working to create a nuclear arsenal. Some entertainers campaigned unsuccessfully to have Zelensky address the Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, with Sean Penn promising to boycott the event and melt his own Oscar statuette if Zelensky weren’t invited to participate.
In 2019, Zelensky’s victory was seen by many as a joke, an impression encouraged by his membership in the “Servant of the People party,” named after the TV series which had brought him national celebrity. However, his popularity solidified following Russia’s invasion, Yulia McGuffie, editor of Ukraine’s Novoye Vremya news website, told the BBC. “He is playing a uniting and I would say inspiring role, partly by his own example,” McGuffie said. “He is leading a government that is repelling Putin’s army, and for that many sincerely admire and respect him.”
While Biden’s overall confidence rating was lower than Macron’s and Scholz’s, a greater proportion of Americans expressed “a lot” of confidence in Biden than in the other two leaders. Pew found 17% of respondents expressed “a lot” of confidence in Biden, compared to 9% for Macron and 7% for Scholz. However, in this field Zelensky still came first, with 33% of Americans expressing “a lot” of confidence in his leadership.
“Ukraine’s Zelensky Is The Master Of Transformational Leadership” (Forbes)