As Market Research Foundation (MRF) noted last fall, the Democrat and Republican parties have been splintering and realigning, with progressives embracing a more hawkish foreign policy agenda in reaction to former President Trump’s less interventionist one. The new poll shows conservatives are consistently maintaining an anti-foreign meddling, America-First approach to foreign policy, while liberals are adopting an interventionist approach under President Biden.
Biden voters, Democrats, and liberals are significantly more likely than Trump voters, Republicans and conservatives or moderates to support foreign aid and foreign military intervention. Sixty-four percent of Biden voters say the U.S. has an obligation to provide “military assistance” to other nations, versus just 44 percent of Trump voters. Sixty-two percent of Democrats say the U.S. owes other countries military assistance compared to just 46 percent of Republicans. Sixty-one percent of liberals say the U.S, owes other countries military assistance, compared to just 44 percent of conservatives.
What is more, certain groups – including young people, white men without a college degree, middle-income Americans, and Midwesterners – overwhelmingly reject the concept of a U.S. obligation to provide aid or military assistance to foreign countries – the very people who would be most likely to be asked to shoulder the burden.
Less than half of Americans believe the U.S. owes other countries money
When asked about foreign aid under the umbrella of humanitarianism, 47 percent of Americans say the U.S. has a “special responsibility” to provide humanitarian assistance to other countries. However, 53 percent of Americans say the U.S. has no such obligation, or that they are unsure (35 percent say the U.S. has no such obligation, and 18 percent say they are unsure).
Although men in aggregate say the U.S. has a responsibility to other countries (46 percent) and that number is similar to the portion of women who say the same thing (47 percent), men are significantly more likely than women to say the U.S. does not owe other countries aid, and women are significantly more likely to say they aren’t sure. Forty-one percent of men versus 30 percent of women take the position that the U.S. does not owe other countries aid, while 13 percent of men and 23 percent of women say they aren’t sure.
Trump voters and groups key to Trump’s base are significantly more likely to say the U.S. does not owe other countries aid. By almost a two to one margin, Trump voters say the U.S. has no responsibility to other nations (57 percent to 28 percent). Meanwhile, Biden voters say the U.S. owes other nations money 71 percent to 18 percent.
By a slightly smaller margin (54 percent to 28 percent) Republicans say the U.S. has no responsibility to other countries. Meanwhile by a margin of 69 percent to 20 percent, Democrats believe the U.S. has an obligation to provide money to other countries. By a margin of 53 percent to 30 percent, conservatives say the U.S. has no responsibility to other countries, and by a margin of 47 percent to 40 percent, white men without a college degree say the U.S. does not owe other countries money.
It is worth noting that this rejection of a supposed U.S. obligation to other nations does not hold true with voters over 65. Older voters disproportionately supported Trump compared to younger groups, but older voters are the most likely to say the U.S. has a responsibility to other nations.
Midwesterners, who disproportionately support Trump in polls, are also significantly more likely than other groups to say the U.S. does not have an obligation to other nations. Thirty-nine percent of Midwesterners say the U.S. does not have an obligation to other nations, compared to 38 percent of Southerners, 32 percent of Northerners and 30 percent of Westerners.
Younger voters ages 18 to 29 are significantly less likely than older age groups to insist the U.S. has a responsibility to other countries, though young people also disproportionately admit they are not sure. Just 41 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say the U.S. has a responsibility to other nations, compared to 45 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds, 46 percent of 45 to 64 year-olds, and 54 percent of 65+. However, 27 percent of under thirties also said they are undecided, compared to just 11 percent of those over 65.
MRF’s comprehensive survey of young Americans also finds an aversion to foreign spending. Our data shows a full 73 percent of young Americans support an America First policy agenda, where the primary goal of any policy must be to focus on the needs of Americans – even if they are not in line with the interests of foreign nations and allies.
These views are widely held regardless of party, although Democrats are less likely than Republicans and Independents to agree with an America First agenda. Overall, 85 percent of young Republicans, 74 percent of young independents, and 65 percent of young Democrats support the idea that the primary goal of any law or policy must be to focus on the needs of Americans.
MRF also found 82 percent of young Americans say if the U.S. government spent as much time on America’s economic needs as it did intervening in other countries, our economy would be better off.
These views are held by 82 percent of young Republicans, 73 percent of young independents, and 66 percent of young Democrats.
Conservatives and Trump voters reject military intervention while liberals and Biden voters promote it
Fifty-one percent of Americans say the U.S. has an obligation to provide “military assistance” to other nations, while 48 percent say the U.S. has no such obligation, or that they are undecided. Twenty-nine percent say the U.S. does not have this obligation and 19 percent are undecided.
On the issue of military intervention, Republicans, conservatives, Trump voters, and key Trump constituencies oppose U.S. military intervention at higher rates than Democrats, liberals, and Biden voters. For example, 64% of Biden voters say the U.S. has an obligation to provide “military assistance” to other nations, versus just 44 percent of Trump voters. Forty-four percent of conservatives say the U.S. has an obligation to other nations militarily, versus 61 percent of liberals, and 46 percent of Republicans say the U.S. has an obligation military to other nations compared to 62 percent of Democrats.
Once again, young Americans are significantly less likely than older groups to say the U.S. owes military assistance to other countries, an issue that is likely to split young people off from a more hawkish Democrat party. Just 45 percent of Americans under age thirty believe the U.S. has a military obligation to other nations, versus 48 percent of 30 to 44 year-olds, 55 percent of 45 to 64-year-olds and 56 percent of those over 65.
Seventy percent of young people agree U.S. involvement in other nations often results in chaos for Americans and other nations, according to MRF data.
In fact, 68 percent of young Republicans, an equal share of young Democrats (68 percent) and 71 percent of young independents say the U.S. should stay out of international conflicts and only become involved when we are forced to. Notably, less than half of young people say they could support a candidate who supports foreign wars.
Market Research Foundation finds that the consistently anti-foreign meddling young American is not necessarily more likely to be liberal or conservative. By party identification, a larger share of young Republicans reject the humanitarian justification for military intervention when compared to young Democrats, but young Independents reject it at the highest rate. Forty percent of Independents disagree with the humanitarian justification statement, versus 37 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats.
Although conservatives say they support foreign military action at slightly higher rates than they do foreign aid, it is still those on the right who are taking the strongest stand against both forms of foreign involvement. This is an ideological reversal from the neoconservative Republican Party of the past that does not appear to be diminishing. What is more, young Americans remain significantly more opposed to both foreign aid and foreign military intervention than older voters, an issue that could drive a wedge between younger voters and the current Democratic Party.
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Bill Wilson is the President of the Market Research Foundation and a former board member and former president of Americans for Limited Government. His column, reprinted with permission, originally appeared on the Market Research Foundation website.
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