2019 CHICAGO COUNCIL SURVEY OF AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION

Rejecting Retreat

Americans Support US Engagement in Global Affairs

2019 CHICAGO COUNCIL SURVEY OF AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION

Rejecting Retreat

Americans Support US Engagement in Global Affairs

A powerful belief about American views of the world has taken hold among foreign policy experts in Washington—that Americans are exhausted from global overreach and want to shed the burdens of global leadership. While it may be true that Americans are searching for a new way to make sense of the world and America’s place in it, the American public—regardless of political leanings—does not want to retreat from the world. 
A powerful belief about American views of the world has taken hold among foreign policy experts in Washington—that Americans are exhausted from global overreach and want to shed the burdens of global leadership. While it may be true that Americans are searching for a new way make sense of the world and America’s place in it, but the American public—regardless of political leanings—does not want to retreat from the world. 

AMERICANS SUPPORT AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THE WORLD

AMERICANS SUPPORT AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THE WORLD

The 2019 Chicago Council Survey finds that American support for taking an active part in world affairs remains at near–record high levels. This level of support is near the highest recorded in the 45-year history of the Chicago Council Survey.

US Role in World Affairs

Seven in 10 Americans say it will be best for the future of the country to take an active part 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 = 2,059

(Click for full size)
Note: Figures may not sum to 100 due to rounding, as well as the exclusion of "don't know" and other responses.
Solid majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support an active role for the United States.
Solid majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support an active role for the United States.
69%
Overall
69%
Overall
75%
Democrat
75%
Democrat
69%
Republican
69%
Republican
64%
Independent
64%
Independent
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AMERICANS SUPPORT ALLIANCES AND MILITARY POWER TO DETER THREATS

AMERICANS SUPPORT ALLIANCES AND MILITARY POWER TO DETER THREATS

Facing a world they see as increasingly dangerous, Americans identified a range of policies that they believe will make the United States safer—notably ones that rely on US military strength and the US alliance system. In addition, a majority of Americans say that security alliances in East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East benefit both US allies and the United States.

Making the United States Safe

Seven in 10 Americans say maintaining US military superiority makes the United States safer.
Three-quarters of Americans say that US military alliances with other countries contribute to US safety.
Half of Americans say that stationing US troops in allied countries contributes to US safety.
Which of the following comes closest to your view on US security alliances in [East Asia/Europe/the Middle East]? Do they: (%)
(Click for full size)
Note: Figures may not sum to 100 due to rounding, as well as the exclusion of "don't know" and other responses.

SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE STILL CLIMBING

SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE STILL CLIMBING

Growing support of international trade among the American public presents further evidence that Americans want to actively engage in the world. More Americans than ever before in Chicago Council polling endorse the benefits of international trade for the US economy and for American companies, with year-over-year increases across political groupings.

International Trade

Overall, do you think international trade is good or bad for: The US economy (%)

n = 2,059

(Click for full size)
Note: Figures may not sum to 100 due to rounding, as well as the exclusion of "don't know" and other responses.
Overall, do you think international trade is good or bad for: US companies (%)

n = 2,059

(Click for full size)
Note: Figures may not sum to 100 due to rounding, as well as the exclusion of "don't know" and other responses.
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A majority of Americans also believe that trade deals benefit both the United States and its trading partners. This includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
63%
Overall
74%
Democrat
54%
Republican
59%
Independent

DEEPENING DIVIDES ON IMMIGRATION, CLIMATE, AND CHINA

DEEPENING DIVIDES ON IMMIGRATION, CLIMATE, AND CHINA

While these data underscore widespread consensus among Americans to maintain and support alliances, military strength, and international trade, there are three issues where the American public divides sharply along partisan lines: the threats posed by immigration, climate change, and the development of China as a world power. On each of these issues, the gap between Democrats and Republicans is at record highs, while Independents tend to fall in the middle.

Immigration as a Threat

43%
Overall
19%
Democrat
78%
Republican
42%
Independent

Climate Change as a Threat

54%
Overall
78%
Democrat
23%
Republican
54%
Independent

Threat of China as a World Power

42%
Overall
36%
Democrat
54%
Republican
40%
Independent
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As the 2020 election cycle kicks into full gear, the American public’s priorities will come under closer scrutiny. While President Trump’s America First policies and the retrenchment policies of the Democratic progressives seem to reflect the view that Americans want to retreat from the world, the findings of the 2019 Chicago Council Survey strongly refutes this line of thinking. The American public wants to reinvigorate the time-tested alliances and strategies of US foreign policy that have been in place for the past seven decades. Given that this sentiment has been underscored in each of the Chicago Council Surveys since 2016, it is clear that the American public does not seek a retreat from the world.
As the 2020 election cycle kicks into full gear, the American public’s priorities will come under closer scrutiny. While President Trump’s America First policies and the retrenchment policies of the Democratic progressives seem to reflect the view that Americans want to retreat from the world, the findings of the 2019 Chicago Council Survey strongly refutes this line of thinking. The American public wants to reinvigorate the time-tested alliances and strategies of US foreign policy that have been in place for the past seven decades. Given that this sentiment has been underscored in each of the Chicago Council Surveys since 2016, it is clear that the American public does not seek a retreat from the world.
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