Politics have long divided Americans’ views of both domestic and foreign policies. New research by the bipartisan Pew Research Center shows that, when looking abroad, the divisions remain clear with one exception: views of North…
Politics have long divided Americans’ views of both domestic and foreign policies. New research by the bipartisan Pew Research Center shows that, when looking abroad, the divisions remain clear with one exception: views of North Korea.
While Americans still have mixed feelings about many important U.S. international allies and other countries, people who affiliate themselves with either the Democrat or Republican political parties both have increasingly negative views on North Korea. And while partisan differences remain on Russia, Americans’ negative views of that country are increasing among members of both political parties, according to the research.
The national survey conducted between July 30 and August 12 questioned 4,581 U.S. adults identifying as Republicans or Democrats. Survey respondents were asked to rank their feelings on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the most positive, toward 10 countries: Mexico, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, India, China, and Canada. The Pew research produced a “feelings thermometer,” which depicts low scores as “cold feelings” toward countries and high numbers as “warm feelings.”
“Republicans and Democrats express overwhelmingly negative views of North Korea, but they diverge in opinions of several other countries — including Mexico, Iran, Russia and several U.S. allies,” according to the report’s authors.
Both parties share the same negative views on North Korea, giving it a score of 21 on the 0-100 scale. In June U.S. President Donald Trump met in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with Kim pledging to work toward denuclearization. In August, however, Reuters reported that a confidential U.N. report stated that the Asian country has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs.
While there are still differences in views of Russia, Republicans and Democrats generally expressed cold feelings toward the country. About 2 in 3 Americans (67 percent) expressed negative view of Russia and assigned it a score below 50, while nearly half of those surveyed (46 percent) expressed very negative views of the country, scoring it below 25.
Yet Democrats feel much more antipathy toward Russia, the survey shows, with more than half labeling their emotions toward it as very negative or very “cold”. Only 37 percent of Republicans shared the same views. A similar proportion (around 20 percent) in both the Republican and the Democratic group said they they felt rather cold about Russia.
The results are surprising, experts say, since traditionally people in the two parties had opposite views.
“Historically, Republicans have been more negative about Russia than Democrats and that has changed in the last few years so that Democrats now feel more negatively toward Russia than Republicans,” says Daniel Hamilton, professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and expert in U.S. foreign policy. “Part of that I attribute to the fact that the president has a mixed message about Russia.”
In addition, people in both political parties have seen an increase in their negative sentiments toward Russia since 2016. Republicans saw an increase in “very cold” views from 30 to 37 percent, while Democrats went from 39 percent in 2016 to 54 percent in 2018, the Pew study showed. The U.S. intelligence community says the Kremlin actively sought to influence the U.S. presidential elections, and earlier this summer 12 Russians were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, accused of hacking into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.
The White House’s national security team said in August that Russia is trying to interfere with the approaching November elections in the U.S. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies any Russian government involvement.
As the economic and technology race against China intensifies, parties also seem to have different views on the Asian country growing stronger. More than half of the Republicans said they felt cold about China, while only 38 percent of the Democrats reported the same feelings. A quarter of the Democrats expressed positive feelings toward the Asian superpower yet only 16 percent of Republicans expressed the same view.
An earlier Pew study found Americans’ views on China worsening over the past year. Younger Americans, however, tended to view the Asian giant more favorably than older respondents.
Americans seem to be by far friendliest to their northern neighbor Canada. Democrats ranked Canada most positively, at 76 out of 100, while Republicans gave it a 65 out of 100, also the highest positive rank on the scale.
People tied to the two major political parties seem to have more mixed feelings about America’s other partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Democrats feel positively about Mexico and scored it at 61, while Republicans place it much lower, at 38. Feelings toward Mexico have been rather constant throughout the past two years, another Pew study showed in August, with the majority of Democrats often expressing favorable views over America’s southern neighbor and only a fraction of Republicans sharing the same feelings.
For Democrats, countries such as India, Japan, Germany and Britain also scored positively in the recent Pew survey, at 53, 62, 63, and 67, respectively, on the 0-100 scale. Republicans on the other hand seemed to favor America’s European allies such as Germany (54) and Britain (64), but also Japan, coming in second in the Pew research, with 59 points.
The Pew findings follow the results of a survey released earlier this year about the views of people in the U.S. and across the world about countries.
In the 2018 Best Countries survey, a poll of more than 21,000 people in all regions of the world ranked Switzerland as the overall No. 1 country. The 1,659 Americans respondents, however, rated Canada as the world’s top country, followed by Switzerland and the United Kingdom and the U.S. American survey respondents ranked Angola last among the 80 countries they were queried about, followed by Ghana, Lebanon and Myanmar.
In that same survey, America’s closest allies didn’t reciprocate their views about the U.S. Respondents in Canada and the U.K. ranked nine countries ahead of the U.S., citing America as being more unequal, less trustworthy, having less-transparent government practices and caring less about human rights compared to the responses from people elsewhere in the world.