A new YouGov/Economist poll found that in July 2014, Republicans had a -66 net favorability view of Putin. As of this month, that number had surged upward by 56 points to just -10. Democrats’ favorability of Putin, not surprisingly, went in the opposite direction. There was no improvement in our relationship with Russia between 2014 and now. In fact, Putin has taken an increasingly more hard-line position toward the US since Obama took office, and, has become more authoritarian at home, stepped up his support for Assad, annexed Crimea, and, in general, has been more confrontational with his closest neighbors.
What has happened within that time frame, though, had been Trump’s candidacy and subsequent win. That’s pretty much it – our Russian relations hadn’t moved much in any consequential direction. So, if it isn’t just unquestioning, blind allegiance to our President-elect – who’s only observable foreign policy regarding Vladimir Putin’s Russia comes as shot-from-the-hip Tweets followed by endless streams of conflicting clarifications – what changed the hearts and minds of the once dyed-in-the-wool Russo-skeptic political party that, even to this day, is so rock-solid in their opposition to Obama’s Russian Reset, that they view the former KGB, foreign strongman half of the undisguised Trump/Putin bromance – caginess and all – more favorably than our own twice, majority elected American president?