Poll: US Public Not Convinced Trump’s Policies Will Make the US Safer

September 11, 2017

A majority of the U.S. public thinks that international terrorism is one of the most critical threats to the country, tied with North Korea's nuclear program, according to new public opinion data from the 2017 Chicago Council Survey. Overall, the U.S. public is not convinced that the Trump administration's policies will make the United States safer from international terrorism. Majorities also continue to support the use of U.S. airstrikes, but not ground troops, to combat violent extremism in Iraq and Syria.

The full report, "U.S. Public Not Convinced that Trump’s Policies Will Make America Safer," is available online.

Key data from the 2017 Chicago Council Survey include:

  • Public assessments of the Trump administration's approach to foreign policy are mixed: About a third say that the current administration’s approach to international affairs will make the United States safer from terrorism (32 percent), less safe (35 percent) or make no difference (30 percent).
  • Partisan differences are stark. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Republicans think that the Trump administration’s approach will make the United States safer, versus just 13 percent of Democrats. Just one in ten (10 percent) Republicans believe Trump’s approach will make the U.S. less safe while 57 percent of Democrats think so. Like the overall public, Independents are evenly divided.
  • While the U.S. public is divided on the security impacts of the Trump administration's policies, they are united in their sense of threat from international terrorism. Three in four people in the U.S. (75 percent)—and majorities across all political affiliations—continue to see international terrorism as a critical threat to the United States. This number is unchanged from 2016.
  • A clear majority of the American public (63 percent) favor the use of U.S. forces to fight violent extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, up slightly from 2015 (57 percent).
  • A majority of the U.S. public says they would favor U.S. airstrikes against violent extremist groups there (68 percent). Four in ten would support sending U.S. combat troops to fight violent extremists in Syria (41 percent).
  • Similar to previous Chicago Council Surveys, four in ten respondents (43 percent) say they would support accepting Syrian refugees into the United Sates, with large differences between Democrats (64 percent) and Republicans (17 percent).

For the complete report, including graphics, please click here.


The analysis in this report is based on data from the 2017 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy. The 2017 Chicago Council Survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research panel between June 27 and July 19, 2017 among a weighted national probability sample of 2,020 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±2.4 percentage points.

The 2017 Chicago Council Survey is made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Korea Foundation, and the personal support of Lester Crown and the Crown family.