Poll: Majority in US see relations with adversaries souring

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

WASHINGTON — A majority of U.S. adults expect America’s relations with foreign adversaries like Russia and North Korea to grow more hostile, according to a new poll, a major shift in public opinion from four years ago under President Donald Trump.

Two years into the Biden administration, 60% of U.S. adults say relations with adversaries will get worse, up from 26% four years ago at the same point in the Trump administration, according to the poll from the Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 21% say relationships with allies will deteriorate, down from 46% then.

In general, 39% expect the country’s global standing to worsen, compared with 48% who said that in 2018. Crucially, the United States’ own sharply divided domestic politic s influences views of the country’s standing abroad.

“Those results really, clearly show that it’s hyperpartisanship” affecting how confidently or bleakly, respectively, Democrats and Republicans see the U.S. standing abroad, said Sheila Kohanteb, a political scientist and executive director of the Global Forum at the Chicago-based Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts.

In terms of the opinions that people in the U.S. are expressing on U.S. dealings abroad, the key factor is “political bloc sticking with political bloc,” Kohanteb said.

Four years ago, three-quarters of Democrats expected U.S. global standing to suffer. Now, roughly that same percentage see stability or improvement in the near future. By comparison, about 6 in 10 Republicans predicted improvements in 2018; now that same percentage expect the current administration to stumble.

Other countries are “probably laughing at us, waiting for us to fall apart,” said Kristy Woodard, a 30-year-old Republican in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She said she saw the economy and U.S. leadership as suffering under President Joe Biden.