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Voters Agree With Trump That America Should Come First

Monday, January 23, 2017

Some media commentators were highly critical of President Trump's use of the phrase "America First" in his inaugural address to describe his trade and foreign policy agenda, but most voters continue to feel that the new commander in chief is on the right track. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with Trump’s statement, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first. America first.” Thirty-seven percent (37%) disagree with that sentiment, while 11% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

A survey last May found that 60% agreed with Trump that the United States has not been putting its own interests ahead of others and should reverse course when it comes to foreign policy. 

An even higher number (69%) of voters agree with another line in Trump’s inauguration speech: “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example.” Just 18% disagree, while 12% are not sure.

This appears to be a pointed departure from the so-called nation-building policies of the last two presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, to establish democracies in the Middle East by use of the U.S. military and U.S. taxpayer dollars. In August, just 28% of voters favored the U.S. government continuing its nation-building efforts.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 22, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters think Trump’s inaugural address is likely to bring Americans together, while slightly more (38%) believe his remarks are more likely to drive Americans further apart. Twenty-one percent (21%) think the speech will have no impact.

Most voters of all partisan affiliations agree with Trump’s statement about letting America shine as an example, although fewer Democrats (55%) support the idea compared to Republicans (84%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (70%). But while 81% of Republicans and a plurality (49%) of unaffiliateds agree with Trump’s call for an America First foreign policy, 60% of Democrats are opposed.

A majority of voters across most demographic groups agree with Trump’s statement that America should not impose its way of life on other countries but be an example instead.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of political conservatives agree with Trump’s America First statement, a view shared by just 22% of liberals and 48% of moderates. Most voters in all three groups, however, agree that America should lead by example.

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of voters who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing in office agree with his statements on putting America first. Eighty-two percent (82%) who Strongly Disapprove of his performance disagree with these remarks. This latter group shows more support (51%) for Trump’s remarks that America should not impose its way of life, but that compares to 94% of those who Strongly Approve of Trump’s performance.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of all voters say that when thinking about problems in the world, they are more interested in finding a solution that most benefits the United States. Thirty-nine percent (39%) said they are more interested in finding a solution that is better for the whole world. Fifty-eight percent (58%) believe Obama was more interested in solutions that benefit the world as a whole, while only 23% think he cared more about solutions that most benefit the United States.

Only 29% now believe most U.S. free trade agreements with other countries have been good for America.

Trump during the campaign referred to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as “obsolete” and questioned why U.S. taxpayers should still be paying heavily to defend Europe and South Korea. But most voters at the time said those long-standing arrangements are just fine.

More recently, however, voters are more supportive of removing U.S. troops from Western Europe and letting the Europeans defend themselves if they refuse to pick up more of the costs involved in doing so.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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