2017 CHICAGO COUNCIL SURVEY OF AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION AND US FOREIGN POLICY

What Americans Think about America First

What Americans Think about America First

2017 CHICAGO COUNCIL SURVEY

What Americans Think about America First

What Americans Think about America First

President Trump’s “America First” platform signaled a major reorientation from the past seven decades of American foreign policy: greater protectionism in trade, a new financial reckoning with our security allies, and a withdrawal from major international agreements. The 2017 Chicago Council Survey, conducted roughly six months into the new administration, tested the appeal of these ideas. The results suggest that, aside from Trump's core supporters, their attraction remains limited.
President Trump’s “America First” platform signaled a major reorientation from the past seven decades of American foreign policy: greater protectionism in trade, a new financial reckoning with our security allies, and a withdrawal from major international agreements. The 2017 Chicago Council Survey, conducted roughly six months into the Trump administration, tested the appeal of these ideas. The results suggest that their attraction remains limited.

“CORE TRUMP SUPPORTERS” ARE THOSE IN THE SAMPLE WHO SAY THEY HAVE A “VERY FAVORABLE” VIEW OF US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP. THIS GROUP CONSTITUTES 21 PERCENT OF THE OVERALL SAMPLE; 62 PERCENT SELF-IDENTIFY AS REPUBLICANS, 31 PERCENT AS INDEPENDENTS, AND 5 PERCENT AS DEMOCRATS.
 

Watch Council experts break down the key report findings:
 

American Support for International Alliances

President Trump has repeatedly criticized allies of free-riding on America’s security guarantee and argued that US alliances were not serving American interests. The president's specific concern with allies is a financial one. He has threatened to withold US contributions if other NATO countries do not meet their financial commitments.

 

But the US public disagrees. Americans rate alliances as one of the most effective ways for the United States to achieve its foreign policy goals.

Maintaining Existing Alliances

How effective do you think each of the following approaches is to achieving the foreign policy goals of the United States: Maintaining existing alliances (% very effective)
n = 2,020

Commitment to NATO

Some people say that NATO is still essential to our country's security. Others say it is no longer essential. Which of these views is closer to your own? (%)
n = 2,020

Options if NATO Allies Don't Spend More on Defense

As you may know, the United States has long urged its NATO allies to spend more on defense. They have recently agreed to increase defense spending but have not yet done so. Which of the following options comes closer to your view? (%)
n = 2,020

Americans Willing to Use US Troops If:

(% support)

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Public More Positive on Trade

As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has criticized trade agreements for benefiting other countries at the direct expense of the US economy and American workers. The 2017 Survey finds that this message has clearly resonated with his base and with a portion of the broader public. But in general, Americans have begun to see the effects of trade on the overall US economy, consumers, and job creation more positively.

International Trade

Overall, do you think international trade is good or bad for: (% good)
n = 2,020

Trade vs. Automation

Overall, which do you think is more responsible for the decline in American manufacturing employment? (%)
n = 2,020

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Concern over Immigration at Lowest Point Yet

Immigration was a central issue during the 2016 presidential campaign, and it remains a key pillar in Donald Trump’s America First platform.
 
The anti-immigrant overtones of America First have struck a particular chord with core Trump supporters, but not with most Americans. The American public is less alarmed than last year by the potential threat of large numbers of immigrants and refugees entering the United States.

Immigration as a Threat

Below is a list of possible threats to the vital interest of the United States in the next 10 years. For each one, please select whether you see this as a critical threat, an important but not critical threat, or not an important threat at all: Large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the United States (% critical threat)
n = 2,020

Illegal Immigration

When it comes to immigration, which comes closest to your view about illegal immigrants who are currently working in the United States? (%)
n = 2,020

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Majority Still Favor US Participation in Paris Agreement

The Trump administration has pushed back against addressing climate issues. In June 2017, President Trump convened a press conference to announce the United States would “cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country” and instead “pursue a new deal.” But the 2017 Chicago Council Survey reveals that a majority of Americans continue to favor US participation in the agreement.

Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Based on what you know, do you think the United States should or should not participate in the following international agreements: the Paris Agreement that calls for countries to collectively reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases (% should participate)
n = 2,020

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Climate Change as a Threat

Below is a list of possible threats to the vital interest of the United States in the next 10 years. For each one, please select whether you see this as a critical threat, an important but not critical threat, or not an important threat at all: Climate change (% critical threat)
n = 2,020

Despite the politically charged environment over the past year, Americans express remarkably enduring support for an active US role in world affairs, for security alliances, and for trade relationships. They also favor offering illegal immigrants an opportunity to earn citizenship, either immediately or with conditions—a fact often overlooked by political leaders. Even though a portion of Americans have some questions about how much the United States gets out of security alliances and trade agreements, the American public as a whole seems to recognize clear value in maintaining them.

To learn more, download the full 2017 Chicago Council Survey.

 
Despite the politically charged environment over the past year, Americans express remarkably enduring support for an active US role in world affairs, for security alliances, and for trade relationships. They also favor offering illegal immigrants an opportunity to earn citizenship, either immediately or with conditions—a fact often overlooked by political leaders. Even though a portion of Americans have some questions about how much the United States gets out of security alliances and trade agreements, the American public as a whole seems to recognize clear value in maintaining them.

To learn more, download the full 2017 Chicago Council Survey.