2018 CHICAGO COUNCIL SURVEY

America Engaged

The Trump administration has made bold attempts to reshape US foreign policy. Is the American public on board? Let’s take a look at the findings of the 2018 Chicago Council Survey.

2018 CHICAGO COUNCIL SURVEY

America Engaged

The Trump administration has made bold attempts to reshape US foreign policy. Is the American public on board? Let’s take a look at the findings of the 2018 Chicago Council Survey.

Americans Want the United States to Remain Engaged

Despite attempts by the White House to pull the United States back from global engagement, a majority of Americans favor the United States taking an active part in world affairs. This is the largest recorded majority than at any point since 1974, except for 2002, when the Council conducted its first survey after the September 11 attacks.

US Role in World Affairs

Do you think it will be best for the future of the country if we take an active part in world affairs or if we stay out of world affairs? (%)
n = 2,046

A Majority Wants Shared Action on Global Issues

The American public does not envision the United States working alone when playing an active role on the world stage.

91%

say that it is more effective for the United States to work with allies and other countries to achieve foreign policy goals.

66%

support the United States making decisions with allies even if it means the United States will sometimes go along with a policy that's not its first choice.

64%

believe the United States should be more willing to make decisions with the United Nations even if it means the United States will sometimes go along with a policy that's not its first choice.

Support is Up for the Iran Deal and the Paris Agreement

President Trump broke away from several international agreements in the past year, including the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. But most Americans disagree with these moves. In fact, support for participating in both of these high-profile international agreements has risen over the past year.

International Agreements

Based on what you know, do you think the United States should or should not participate in the following international agreements? (% should participate)

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It's More Important to be Admired than Feared

The administration has attempted to change the nature of US global influence to a more coercive style toward both allies and hostile actors. But almost three times as many Americans think admiration of the United States is more important than fear of the United States to achieve US foreign policy goals.

39%

think that United States is now more feared than admired.

73%

think admiration of the United States is more important than fear of the United States to achieving US foreign policy goals.

57%

say that the United States is losing allies.

US Public Wants to Maintain or Increase Commitment to NATO

While some administration officials have praised NATO, the president has repeatedly criticized European allies for not spending enough on defense, reportedly even threatening to withdraw from the alliance at one point. Yet his attacks do not seem to have dented public support for the transatlantic alliance.

NATO Commitment

Do you feel we should increase our commitment to NATO, keep our commitment what it is now, decrease our commitment to NATO, or withdraw from NATO entirely? (%)
n = 2,046

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Support for Using US Troops to Defend Key Allies Has Grown

Americans continue to favor contributing to allies’ security through bases and security commitments, and their willingness to do so has increased.

64%

support sending US troops to defend South Korea and Japan if attacked by North Korea.

54%

support defending Baltic NATO allies with US troops if Russia invades.

Americans Are High on Trade

The White House is waging trade battles on multiple fronts, but the American public is more optimistic about the benefits of trade than ever before. Large majorities of Americans say that trade is good for the US economy, consumers, and US job creation.

International Trade

Overall, do you think international trade is good or bad for: (% good)
n = 2,046

American Support For Trade Agreements Has Grown

Along with increasingly positive views of the benefits of international trade over the past two years, support for specific trade deals has increased as well.

63%

say NAFTA is good for the US economy.

61%

believe the United States should participate in the Comprehensive and Progressive
Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The Trump administration’s bold attempts to reshape US foreign policy have not convinced many Americans. On issues where the White House has acted—withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris Agreement, and the TPP agreement—Americans are less likely to see them as “wins” and more likely to endorse participating in these agreements. And while Trump’s base continues to share his vision, the majority of Americans are more convinced about the benefits of active US engagement and the need to work with allies.
 
The Trump administration’s bold attempts to reshape US foreign policy have not convinced many Americans. On issues where the White House has acted—withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris Agreement, and the TPP agreement—Americans are less likely to see them as “wins” and more likely to endorse participating in these agreements. And while Trump’s base continues to share his vision, the majority of Americans are more convinced about the benefits of active US engagement and the need to work with allies.
 
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