There's been a breathtaking swing in Putin's popularity among Republicans since Trump entered the fray

Vladimir Putin’s favorability rating has taken an amazing turn among Republicans since Donald Trump began praising the Russian president.

According to a YouGov/Economist poll, Putin’s favorability rating in July 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea, was a negative-54 among Democrats and negative-66 among Republicans.

A poll from the same outlets released two years later, in August, showed that Putin’s favorability rating among Democrats remained identical. But the Russian leader’s rating among Republicans improved dramatically, going from negative-66 to negative-27.

That’s likely at least partially a byproduct of Trump, the Republican nominee, heaping praise on Putin as a “strong leader” and comparing him favourably to US President Barack Obama.

Taking a closer look, in the 2014 poll, 3% of Republicans had very favourable views of Putin in addition to 7% who had somewhat favourable views. The same poll showed that 25% of Republicans had somewhat unfavorable views, while a whopping 51% had very unfavorable views of Putin.

The August poll showed that some of those numbers took a drastic swing.

In that survey, the percentage of Republicans who viewed him very unfavorably dipped from 51% to 22%, and those who viewed him somewhat favourably increased from 7% to 14%. In addition, those who answered that they didn’t know how they felt increased from 15% to 26%.

On Wednesday, Trump again heaped praise on Putin during NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum.

“He is really very much of a leader,” Trump said of Putin. “You can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing,’ I mean, the man has very strong control over his country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

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