Public Uncertain, Divided Over America’s Place in the World -Pew Research Center


The results from recent surveys conducted by the by the Pew Research Center suggest increased public  support for US military spending, continuing skepticism concerning internationalism, and deep partisan divisions of foreign policy issues.

1. Defense Spending: “With the United States facing an array of global threats, public support for increased defense spending has climbed to its highest level since a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when 50% favored more defense spending.

Currently, 35% say the U.S. should increase spending on national defense, 24% say it should be cut back and 40% say it should be kept about the same as today. The share favoring more defense spending has increased 12 percentage points (from 23%) since 2013.”


2. Internationalism: “57% of Americans want the U.S. to deal with its own problems, while letting other countries get along as best they can. Just 37% say the U.S. should help other countries deal with their problems. And more Americans say the U.S. does too much (41%), rather than too little (27%), to solve world problems, with 28% saying it is doing about the right amount.

The public’s wariness toward global engagement extends to U.S. participation in the global economy. Nearly half of Americans (49%) say U.S. involvement in the global economy is a bad thing because it lowers wages and costs jobs; fewer (44%) see this as a good thing because it provides the U.S. with new markets and opportunities for growth.”


3. Polarization: “This shift underscores the deep partisan and ideological divisions in attitudes about U.S. foreign policy – differences that extend to how to deal with terrorism, the nature of global threats, views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how deeply involved the United States should be in the world.

On each of these measures, Republicans express greater skepticism about U.S. international engagement than do Democrats. Roughly six-in-ten Republicans (62%) say the United States should deal with its own problems and let other countries deal with their problems as best they can, compared with 47% of Democrats. And 55% of Republicans view global economic engagement negatively, compared with 44% of Democrats.”

Americans way of global involvement


4. The Trump Effect: “Trump’s primary campaign supporters stand out for their negative assessments of U.S. involvement in the global economy. Fully 65% of Republican registered voters who prefer Trump for the Republican presidential nomination say U.S. involvement in the global economy is a bad thing, compared with only about half of those who prefer Cruz (49%) or Kasich (46%).”

5. Global Threats: “In the view of the public, the top global threat facing the United States is ISIS – a concern that was not on the radar when the prior America’s Place in the World study was conducted three years ago. Currently, 80% say the Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS is a major threat to the well-being of the United States, while 72% view cyberattacks from other countries as a major threat and 67% say the same about global economic instability.

There are partisan differences over a number of global concerns, but the widest gap, by far, is over the threat to the United States from global climate change. Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats (77%) view global climate change as a major threat to the U.S., compared with just 26% of Republicans.  ..Among Republicans, climate change is the lowest of the eight threats included in the survey.”

For more details, see: