The t-shirts spotted at a Trump rally last year said it all: “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.”

Apparently, the sentiment is common in the GOP.

According to a new poll from The Economist and YouGov, 19% of Trump’s 2020 voters have a favorable view of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. But only 9% have a favorable view of President Biden.

In other words, MAGA nation prefers an autocrat who’s killed dissidents and jailed political rivals over the democratically elected Commander-in-chief of their own country.

The finding is startling, but hardly surprising. In 2017, Putin outpolled former President Barack Obama within the GOP.

The right-wing preference for Putin over the last two Democrat presidents is part and parcel of a conservative media ecosystem that lionizes the strongman while disparaging standard bearers on the left.

From a March 20th News and Guts article:

Fox News routinely shows photos of a shirtless Putin engaged in “masculine” activities like horseback riding and martial arts. Conversely, the photos they broadcast of Biden (sometimes shown side-by-side with photos of Putin from the Kremlin’s propaganda machine) tend to be unflattering. In addition, the network’s prime time hosts routinely speculate that Biden suffers from cognitive decline. They call him “weak.” Appearing on Sean Hannity on Thursday night, GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz said “I don’t think the American would prevail” in a debate between Putin and Biden. Several Republicans – for some murky reason – are echoing the Kremlin’s call for such a debate.

Following Biden’s summit with Putin earlier this week, several Fox News personalities once again expressed a preference for Putin, which Late Night host Seth Meyers skewered.

“The very same people who approve of Donald Trump’s friendly attitude towards Putin are claiming Biden wasn’t tough enough,” the comedian said, adding that “even Putin was willing to admit that he was dealing with a more experienced statesman in Biden.”