“America First” does not mean “America Alone” for a Majority of Trump Voters

A new poll of suggests that people who voted for Donald Trump last year interpret “America First” somewhat differently than what one might expect.  In fact, according to a the poll released today by the Better World Campaign, Trump voters join all voters in being favorably disposed to the US working cooperatively with other countries rather than “going it alone.”   

The poll finds that a strong majority of Trump voters — 67% —   believe it is better for the United States to work with allies and through international organizations. This is compared to only 28% of Trump voters who prefer the U.S. acts mainly on its own. (Among all voters, the poll finds that 83% say it is better for the U.S. to work through allies and international organization than to act mainly on its own.)

When it comes the United Nations in particular, the poll finds that the UN has an overall favorability rating of 65%, which is its highest rating since the bi-partisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates began this tracking poll in 2009. What’s more, a large majority of Trump voters prefer the United States to remain positively engaged with the institution. 75% of Trump voters agreed that it is “important for the United States to maintain an active role in the United Nations.” (Among all overs 88% say that it is either “very important” or “somewhat important” for the US to maintain an active role in the UN.)

Events in the news may have some bearing on voters’ positive disposition to US engagement through the United Nations. 

The survey was conducted in from September 30 and October 3 this year. When asked to cite an international issue that they have seen in the news recently a plurality of respondents offered the North Korea nuclear issue as an example. This is somewhat to be expected, as Trump’s barbs with Kim Jong Un were very much a dominant part of the news cycle during this time. 

Still, it is interesting to note that the same survey which found respondents more aware of the North Korea issue than any other, also found strong popular support for working multilaterally through the United Nations. To the extent that one can extrapolate from these twin finding, the data would suggest that voters prefer the United States to work with allies and at the United Nations to confront this threat.  (Incidentally, that has been the strategy of the Trump administration thus far, which has successfully championed new sanctions against the North Korean regime.) On the flip side, the data would also suggest that unilateral action against North Korea that does not have the support of allies could be deeply unpopular among voters. 

It would seem that American voters prefer that their elected leaders engage with other allies, and in multilateral forums, when confronting some of the most pressing global security challenges. 

Other interesting results from the survey:

  • Partisan affiliation impacts voters’ perception of the UN.  88% of Democrats have a favorable view of the UN compared to 6% unfavorable. Independents have favorable views (57% favorable/33% unfavorable), while slight majorities of Republicans and Trump voters have an unfavorable image of the United Nations (42% favorable/51% unfavorable among Republicans and 37% favorable/55% unfavorable among Trump voters). 
  • Millennials are favorably disposed to the UN.

                     86% believe the UN is still needed today

    • 92% say it is important for the U.S. to maintain an active role in the UN (73% say it is very important)
    • 88% believe the U.S. should work through international organizations vs. 10% who say we should act mainly on our own
    • 72% have a favorable image of the UN
    • 84% favor paying our UN dues on time and in full, and 83% favor paying our peacekeeping dues on time and in full
  • Americans want the US to pay its fair share of the costs of the UN.

More than seven in ten voters support the United States paying our dues to the United Nations on time and in full (71% favor/27% oppose) and support the United States paying our peacekeeping dues to the United Nations on time and in full (73% favor/23% oppose).Majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats support the U.S. paying our UN general and peacekeeping dues on time and in full.  A majority of Trump voters support paying our UN peacekeeping dues on time and in full. 

Check out the full survey results.