More Russians would prefer Donald Trump to become president of the United States than any other candidate, recent research has revealed.
A YouGov poll found that in Russia, Trump, with 31% of the vote, carried a 21 point lead over Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, both the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Ted Cruz were only the preferred candidates for 1% of the population, each.
The figures, which came from research into opinions in all the G20 countries, and involved interviewing at least 20,000 adults in each, show that in these countries, it is only Russia who would prefer a Trump Presidency. All of the other 19 countries indicated Clinton was their preferred choice, where she had between a nine and a 54-point lead.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest gap between her and the former Apprentice host was Mexico, a place about which he has made many disparaging remarks. Trump previously claimed Mexico “are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists”.
He also said he would build a 1,000 mile border fence across the US-Mexican border, and force Mexico to pay for it, through “enforcement of existing trade rules”, “cancelling visas”, and imposing tougher rules to prevent Mexicans from sending money back home. It was claimed these policies would “compel Mexico to pay for the wall, with a “one-time payment of $5-10 billion”, according to a two-page memo Trump sent to the Washington Post.
By contrast, he has a much better relationship with Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin. In March of this year, Putin described Trump as “a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt,” and “the absolute leader in the Presidential race.”
Trump responded by saying “It is always a great honour to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
Furthermore, Trump has also been actively supportive of Putin. After a British judge ruled in January that Putin had “probably approved” the murder of former-spy Alexander Litvinenko, Trump said he saw “no evidence” of this. “First of all, he says he didn’t do it. Many people say it wasn’t him. So who knows who did it?”
Meanwhile, Russia’s state television has been very critical of both the Republican and Democratic parties. On Vesti Nedeli, Russia’s main weekly new show, presenter Dmitry Kiselyov reportedly said that “Trump doesn’t suit the Republican party”.
“They usually divide up the state budget (among themselves) by frightening people about Russia. But Trump is ready to find a common language with Putin. That’s why they don’t need Trump and even regard him as dangerous.”
With vocal support from TV news, as well as their president, who, according to the same poll, 74% of Russians named as the “major world leader they trust most”, it isn’t surprising support for Trump is so high.
However, Trump might have recently mis-stepped with a recent video attacking Hillary Clinton. The ad referenced “our toughest enemies”, before showing a clip of Putin and then a clip of ISIS, before Clinton barking like a dog and Putin laughing (honestly). Unsurprisingly, this has not gone down well in Russia.
“It is common knowledge that the demonization of Russia – let me put it this way – and everything related to it is regrettably a mandatory attribute of US election campaigns”, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
He was reportedly unsure if Putin himself had seen the clip, but added, “We always regret this. We would like election processes to proceed without such allusions to our country.”
Whilst this seem clumsy, some have speculated this latest ad was an attempt to show that Trump wasn’t too friendly with Russia, which might risk alienating a segment of his supporters.
He has previously claimed that he will “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS, will rebuild our military and make it so strong no one – and I mean, no one – will mess with us”.
Being seen as overly-friendly with the former “Evil Empire” is unlikely to go down too well with those who respond positively to such tough rhetoric.
Still, it is unlikely to cause Putin to switch support to Hillary, given their icy history. During the 2008 race to become the Democratic nominee, she said Putin “doesn’t have a soul”, poking fun at comments made by President Bush. Putin responded by saying that “As a minimum, a head of state should have a head.”
More recently, she described her relationship with him, with whom she clashed many times over the years, as “interesting”, before referring to him as a bully.