Why Americans Might Not Rally Around Biden Over Ukraine

Few notions are as ingrained in political punditry as the idea that foreign crises unite Americans behind their president. It’s called the “rally ’round the flag effect” and it’s been taken as fact by commentators and chased by White Houses for decades.

But it’s also something of a political urban legend. While there are examples of presidents seeing a public approval boost during a crisis, there is also evidence that the improvements are minimal and fleeting — and perhaps getting less common in our hyperpolarized politics.

That hasn’t kept presidents from trying. On Tuesday night, President Biden used his State of the Union address to call on Congress to stand with him to condemn the invasion of Ukraine commanded by President Vladimir Putin of Russia. “He thought he…

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