December 1, 2022

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Fox News Poll: Over 8 in 10 say Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is a problem

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Over half of voters don’t like how President Biden is handling the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, and an overwhelming majority is troubled by the country’s human rights record.

During the presidential campaign, Biden committed to punishing Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses, including the 2018 killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

A new Fox News survey shows 84% think Saudi Arabia’s track record on human rights is a problem, with over half calling it a major problem. More than 8 in 10 Democrats, Republicans, and independents think the kingdom’s human rights record is an issue.  

The survey was conducted July 10-13, just before Biden’s first presidential visit to the Middle East, which included a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

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By a 23-point margin, more voters disapprove (55%) than approve (32%) of how Biden is handling relations with Saudi Arabia. Most Republicans (82%) and independents (64%) rate him negatively on Saudi Arabia, as do more than one in five Democrats (22%). 

One purpose of the president’s trip was to encourage an increase in oil production.   

Voters split over the U.S. purchasing oil from Saudi Arabia: 47% are comfortable with it, 49% aren’t. That’s about midway between a low 19% comfortable buying from Russia and a high 83% happy buying from Canada — and it lands closest to the 52% comfortable getting oil from Venezuela.

“The Saudis are ostensibly an ally, but Americans are about as comfortable doing business with them as they are with the openly antagonistic socialist regime in Venezuela,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News survey with Democrat Chris Anderson. “That about sums up the difficulty of Biden’s visit.”

WHITE HOUSE SAYS OIL PRODUCTION ‘NOT THE FOCUS’ OF CONVERSATIONS WITH SAUDI ARABIA

Meanwhile, more than half disapprove of the job Biden is doing on energy policy (57%), and say they have changed their summer travel plans because of gas prices (52%). 

When asked to say who or what is most responsible for current gas prices, without the aid of a list, voters mention Biden (31%) about as often as the Russia-Ukraine war (20%) and oil companies/price gouging (14%) combined — two reasons the administration frequently cites. 

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Republicans (55%) and independents (33%) are most likely to blame Biden. Among Democrats, only 6% say the president is responsible for gas prices, as they mainly blame the war (34%) and oil companies (24%).

More Democrats than Republicans are comfortable buying oil from Venezuela (by 30 points), Saudi Arabia (+19), and Canada (+16). There is bipartisan discomfort with Russian oil. 

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Conducted July 10-13, 2022 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,001 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin
of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. 

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.