It’s time again for the Reagan Institute to discover what Americans – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – think about US national security and foreign policy. The just-released Reagan Institute Summer Survey revealed Americans have opinions not generally reported by traditional news media. Conducted between May 30 and June 6, 2023, the survey sampled 1,254 adults, 494 by telephone, and 760 through an online panel, and asked if they felt the nation was moving in the right direction. The results were not encouraging.
Americans Dissatisfied With Direction of the Country
Since the Joe Biden administration took office in January 2021, the portion of survey respondents who believe the United States is on the “wrong track” increased from 51% in February 2021 to 69% in June 2023, a significant boost in pessimism. More than 85% of Republicans surveyed believe the country is on the wrong trajectory. Democrats are, as expected, less bleak about the current White House team. Just under half (49%) of Biden’s party members don’t like the path the country is taking. However, regarding the most intensely courted voting demographic, 71% of Independents say the United States is going in the wrong direction.
The June 2023 survey looked at public opinion in four areas:
- Support for US Global Leadership – US Foreign Policy Principles
- Views on Cutting Military Spending
- Enduring Support for Ukraine
- Multifaceted Approach to Deterring China – Support for Trade Agreement with Asian Countries Designed to Counter China.
In supporting US global leadership in international affairs, the survey showed some surprising results:
“Despite political polarization in recent years, there is bipartisan agreement on which broad principles should guide US foreign policy … In the abstract, respondents believe that the United States is better served by withdrawing from international affairs and focusing more attention on problems at home, which garners agreement from 65% of Americans, including 53% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans.”
One conclusion is that Americans are becoming more isolationist. As the Reagan Institute’s analysis pointed out, “While many, understandably, believe that domestic problems deserve attention and resolution, they simultaneously believe that the United States should maintain a strong military in addition to promoting international trade and defending human rights abroad.” The seemingly conflicting perspectives indicate the majority of respondents may believe the United States should take a global leadership position but are dismayed by the poor performance of the current foreign policy team.
Summer Survey Respondents Want a Strong Military
The survey also shows a bipartisan support for a strong fighting force. “Increasing the defense budget has the support of 71% of Americans, including 85% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, and 57% of Democrats.” Though this is one data set among many, these statistics should alert fiscal conservatives who may be tempted to see the defense budget as red meat for cutting. Yet increases in defense spending will meet the cap on expenditures passed in the recent debt limit deal. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “suggested that the consequences of the spending caps would be severe if kept in place over the long-term,” according to Alexander Bolton’s reporting for The Hill.
Where US public opinion diverges is on Ukraine. Right now the White House is concerned about what it perceives as eroding support for US assistance to the Kyiv government. “Polls show public support for arming the Ukrainians softening while the two leading Republican presidential candidates are increasingly speaking out against involvement in the war,” The New York Times reported. Nevertheless, the Reagan Institute found that more than 75% of those polled believe “it is important to the United States that Ukraine wins the war against Russian aggression.” Only about 30% oppose sending monetary aid to Ukraine. While it is impressive that such a high percentage of Americans are in favor of helping Ukraine, the Biden administration has been reluctant to explain why the United States has taken on this responsibility.
Winning Cold War With China a Priority
In America’s cold war with China, the survey showed the respondents appreciate the need for more effective military and economic competition. “Americans are increasingly prioritizing the security threat from China, with a majority (54%) saying that countering Chinese military power should be a major focus of US foreign policy.” Regarding trade with other Asian countries as a bulwark against the People’s Republic of China, nearly 60% of those surveyed are in favor.
Assessments of what Americans think, like the Reagan Institute Summer Survey, are essential. While not dispositive, they provide policymakers with a point of view and guidelines on support for government programs consistent with what citizens consider important. On the other hand, such polls give a cautionary perspective on formulating government policy. It’s a good idea to consider both outcomes.
Liberty Nation Today:
Liberty Nation On The Go: Listen to Today’s Top News - Conservative News - Hot Off The Press - Listen Now!
Biden’s Big Gun Control Office and the Fall of CA’s Magazine Ban - From the White House to the courthouse, Friday was a mixed bag for gun owners. - Read Now!
Biden Border Policy Invites in Chinese Spies - Perhaps it’s time for an Indo-Pacific security strategy in Biden’s border policy. - Read Now!
The Politics of Labor – C5 TV - Is the union vote up for grabs? - Watch Now!
US Consumers Are Tapped Out, New Study Finds - Pandemic-era savings are set to be exhausted. - Read Now!