September 2, 2016

Taking Exception to Exceptionalism

By Lily Wojtowicz, Public Opinion & Foreign Policy Intern

Slowly but surely, the idea that the United States is ‘exceptional’ is on the decline among the American electorate. The 2016 Chicago Council Survey (CCS) shows the number of Americans who view America as the greatest country in the world is down by nine percentage points from when the question was first asked in 2012 (70% 2012, 61% 2016). In The Weekly Standard, CCS advisory board member, Tod Lindberg, recently pointed to this decline in sentiment. He also pointed to the contrast between current Republican and Democrat presidential candidates and their supporters on American exceptionalism.  

Republican Donald Trump insists that American is no longer the great country it once was, while Democrat Hillary Clinton insists it still is a great country. And yet, the 2016 CCS found Republican voters are far more favorable to this view of American greatness (78%) than Democrats (55%). As Lindberg puts it, “those inclined toward skepticism about American exceptionalism are getting a steady diet of American greatness from their candidate, whereas those most inclined to embrace American exceptionalism are getting a stream of negativity from theirs.” Read the full article, “Who’s the Greatest?” here.

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

Archive


| By Diana C. Mutz

How Trade Attitudes Changed from 2012-2016

Trade was an important issue in the recent presidential election, but not in the way the media and many prominent observers have led us to believe.  The dominant narrative in the media was that disgruntled manufacturing workers whose jobs had been sent overseas emerged, understandably, as trade’s strong opponents, thus making Trump with his strong anti-trade rhetoric their natural ally.


Who Run the World? Foreign Policy Attitudes on Women and Girls

In partnership with the New America Foundation, the 2016 Chicago Council Survey included two questions developed to provide better insight about the importance of promoting women's rights and women's participation in societies around the world. 


This Presidential Election Was All about Identity, Not Qualities and Issues

Donald Trump just pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in American political history, capturing the presidency last Tuesday night. How did it happen? This election was all about identity politics, with Trump able to connect with non-college whites, especially white men without a college degree.



| By Dina Smeltz

The US-Russian Relationship

The 2016 Chicago Council Survey partnered with the Levada Analytical Center in Moscow to ask Americans and Russians how they feel about each other and—more importantly—each other’s government. 


| By Richard C. Eichenberg

Gender Difference in Foreign Policy Opinions: Implications for 2016

There are three patterns in American politics that take on special significance in 2016: the gender divide in Presidential elections; the low support for Donald Trump among women; and the growing discussion in the foreign policy community about the inclusion of women in the policy process. Nonresident fellow Richard Eichenberg explores the extent of gender difference in the 2016 Chicago Council Survey data and assesses the relevance of any differences to this year’s presidential election.







The Surprising Popularity of Trade

Results from the 2016 Chicago Council Survey reveal that international trade and globalization remain popular with the American public. 



| By Dina Smeltz, Karl Friedhoff

On Terrorism, Americans See No End in Sight

The June 10-27 Chicago Council Survey finds that the American public considers international terrorism to be the most critical threat facing the nation. In combating terrorism Americans say that almost all options should be on the table, yet a large majority expect that occasional acts of terror will be a part of life in the future.