Nearly three-fourths of all Utahns now look warily upon the Soviet Union as a "friendly adversary" rather than an enemy, and only a minority harbors any distrust of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Results from the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV Poll reveal a striking change in attitudes since the days when most Americans wouldn't trust a Soviet leader any farther than they could throw a Russian bear.Still, only 6 percent of the 603 people who were polled by Dan Jones & Associates said they would characterize the United States and Soviet Union as friends. On the other hand, only 2 percent said the Soviets are enemies who can't be trusted at all.
Fourteen percent responded that the Soviets are adversaries who can't really be trusted, and 5 percent described the new relationship as one of enemies who work together.
Democrats are slightly more trusting than Republicans of the new and improved Soviet Union, and Davis County residents appear to be substantially more trusting than those from other areas of the state. According to the poll, 22 percent of the respondents from Davis County said the Soviets are friends who can be trusted, compared to only 6 percent in Salt Lake County, 5 percent in Utah County, 2 percent in Cache and Box Elder counties, and 3 percent elsewhere.
While 35 percent of all respondents said Gorbachev "definitely" was sincere in his attempts to reform the Soviet Union, less than half as many - 15 percent - said they definitely trusted him. However, 54 percent said Gorbachev "probably" could be trusted.
Generally, younger people were less suspicious than their elders in their attitudes toward the Soviet leader and his government. Those over age 50 - people who remember the onset of the chill in Soviet-American relations after World War II - were twice as likely to distrust the Soviet Union as those who were between 18 and 34 years old.
Also, males seem to be more positive than females in their perception of Gorbachev. Twenty percent of the men who were polled said Gorbachev could definitely be trusted, compared to 11 percent of the females. There was little difference between men's and women's responses regarding the Soviet nation, however.
The statewide poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 20-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
DESERET NEWS/KSL POLL
Do you believe Mikhail Gorbachev is sincere in his attempts to change the Soviet Union?
In your opinion, can Gorbachev be trusted to keep his promises?
Definitely not..... 7%
In your opinion, which best describes America's relationship with the Soviets today?
Friends - we trust them.....6%
Friendly adversaries - we are wary.....71%
Adversaries - don't really trust each other.....14%
Enemies - who work together.....5%
Enemies - Soviets can't be trusted.....2%
Sample size: 603; margin of error plus or minus 4%