With the doom and gloom of the Republican campaign rhetoric thus far, it seems that GOP presidential candidates have taken the measure of an electorate that is in a thoroughly downbeat mood. There is some basis for that in a recent PRRI survey that also indicates that Americans backing Donald Trump stand out from other Republican candidates' supporters in their particularly negative outlook.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of the 2015 American Values Survey in November, and found that seven in ten Americans across the political spectrum believe the country is still in a recession (72%). Opinion is evenly divided on whether America’s best days are ahead (49%) or behind (49%) it. These views vary by partisan affiliation, with Republicans and those Independents leaning Republican more negative about the status of the United States than Democrats. Most negative of all are the Tea Party supporters, with just one-third saying that America’s best days are ahead.
While I would have liked to see what Trump’s supporters said about whether America’s greatness is ahead or behind, that data was not reported. But in their article titled “What Animates Trump Supporters” on the PRRI blog, Joanna Piacenza and Robert Jones outline some of the unique characteristics and attitudes expressed by supporters of Donald Trump. Specifically:
Trump supporters are also much more likely than supporters of other candidates to come from the white working class (55% among Trump backers, compared to about a third for the other candidates). Perhaps as such, Trump supporters are particularly likely to believe that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities (74% compared to 57% of other GOP candidates agree). Though not a majority, a sizable minority of Trump supporters (42%) say that white men face a lot of discrimination in the country today—12 percentage points higher than the percentage among those who back a different candidate (30%).
Trump supporters differ most from those backing other Republican candidates in their personal perspectives about immigration and negative views of immigrants. Seven in ten Trump supporters say that immigration is a critical personal concern (69%) compared to just half of those supporting other GOP hopefuls (50%). Eight in ten Trump supporters say that immigrants today are a burden to the United States because they take American jobs, housing, and health care, compared to six in ten among those supporting Republican candidates other than Trump. And Trump backers are 15 percent points more likely than non-Trump supporters to say that coming into contact with immigrants who spoke little or no English bothers them.
As Sara McElmurry and I argue in this article on Foreign Policy, a candidate for the national election must be able to attract votes across political and demographic divides. Hardline positions on immigration and closing borders do not jibe with overall public opinion that leans toward offering undocumented workers a path to citizenship. This point was not lost on the Republican national committee when it conducted an “autopsy” after the 2012 elections. For the GOP’s long-term survival, party leaders concluded that it had to reach out to minorities, especially Latinos, and to “embrace and champion” immigration reform. After all, according to US Census Bureau projections, more than half of the country’s children under the age of 18 are expected to be “part of a minority race or ethnic group” by 2020.
I recommend that you read the full survey American Values Survey and the blog postings yourself for more insights.
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.
The world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. This week, the Council survey team has updates on public opinion and the pandemic from the United States, Japan, South Korea, Canada, France, Italy, the UK, Brazil, and Russia.
A recent COVID-19 outbreak in Seoul stemming from a nightlife district popular with expats and the LGBTQ community brought unwarranted criticism from Korean media and conservative groups. This blog looks at Korean public opinion on the LGBTQ community and finds a shift towards growing acceptance.
The new national security law in Hong Kong has alarmed overseas observers. What do business leaders based in Hong Kong think about it and its effects on the city?
This week, the Chicago Council Survey team’s update on public opinion and the coronavirus pandemic includes results from the United States, Japan, South Korea, France, Italy, the UK, and Germany.
The Trump administration has announced plans to reduce the US military presence in Germany by 9,500 troops. What do Americans think about the US presence there?
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Australians views of international relations and globalization?
Recent surveys conducted over the past week show that a majority of Americans sympathize with the protests occurring across the country since the death of George Floyd.
This week's global public opinion update on the COVID-19 pandemic covers the United States, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Italy, and France.
This week's global public opinion update on the COVID-19 pandemic covers the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Brazil, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Despite the rise in official tensions, Americans have continued to not see China's rise as a threat. But is the coronavirus pandemic turning Americans against China?
This week's global public opinion update on the COVID-19 pandemic covers the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Brazil, Israel, and Palestine.
As the 2020 presidential election nears, immigration remains a contentious topic. How will Joe Biden shape his immigration policies to appeal to Americans across party lines?
This week's global public opinion update on the COVID-19 pandemic covers the United States, Canada, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Mexico, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Polling on pandemics since 2003 shows that Americans have consistently expressed willingness to stay at home in the face of a pandemic.
This week's global public opinion update on the COVID-19 pandemic covers the United States, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia.