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.
Opinion in Northern Ireland is polarized amid Brexit negotiations.
The United Kingdom remains split on Brexit as Parliament is suspended amid tumultuous backlash.
How are Americans reacting to the US-China trade war?
Mexicans have a far more negative views of Trump than of the United States or the US-Mexico relationship.
Amid the protests and violence in Hong Kong, a recent survey reveals differences in opinions between younger and older age groups as well as between more and less educated people living in Hong Kong.
Mexican attitudes towards Central American migrants are changing as the dispute between the US and Mexico over how to handle the migration issue continues.
Relations between Japan and South Korea are in freefall, with the two key US allies in Asia engaged in a steadily escalating economic conflict.
The United States has long been the tops arms supplier in the world. Yet public opinion data shows that Americans aren’t fans of U.S. arms sales.
Most Americans believe that respect and admiration for the United States are instrumental in achieving US foreign policy goals. But a new poll finds publics in the Middle East and North Africa continue to view the United States unfavorably.
At the June 25-26 Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Workshop, Jared Kushner presented the first component of a U.S. peace plan for the Middle East. But how does this plan sit with the Palestinian public?
Approval rates for Moon Jae-in are sliding, but his North Korea policy is not one of primary drivers.
In early February 2019, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty following President Trump’s October 2018 (and the Obama administration’s July 2014) accusations that Russia was failing to comply with the treaty. Russia withdrew from the treaty the next day.
Findings from a February 2019 Chicago Council on Global Affairs general public survey and a December 2018 Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey of International Relations (IR) scholars around the world illustrate how these different populations perceive the collapse of the INF Treaty.
The foreign policy elite and the general public have long viewed the potential threat of China very differently. That gap may may now be in decline.
Despite expectations for the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, their recent summit in Hanoi ended with no agreement toward denuclearization. With that in mind, we asked our panel of foreign policy experts whether the United States should continue to focus primarily on denuclearization, or shift to arms control and non-proliferation.
The Council’s Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy is launching a series of flash polls to share expert insights on policy debates driving today's news.