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Most Voters Say No to Further U.S. Nation-Building Efforts

Monday, August 22, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he would put an end to “nation building," a term that in recent years has been used to describe stepped-up efforts to establish democracies in the Middle East by use of the U.S. military and U.S. taxpayer dollars. Few voters believe the government's nation-building efforts have been a success, and most agree with Trump that they should be ended.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 28% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the U.S. government continuing its nation-building efforts. Fifty-three percent (53%) oppose such policies. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Only nine percent (9%) consider America’s nation-building efforts thus far to be a success, while 46% consider them a failure instead. Forty-three percent (43%) rate those efforts somewhere between a success and a failure.

While President George W. Bush was perhaps the most aggressive proponent of nation building with his administration's efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans (62%) are even stronger opponents than Democrats (45%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (53%) of continuing this policy. President Obama has continued and expanded Bush's policy, and 36% of voters in his party are in favor of further nation building.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of GOP voters consider U.S. nation-building efforts to date to be a failure, but only 35% of Democrats and 46% of unaffiliateds agree. Few voters in any group, though, view these efforts as a success.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 17-18, 2016 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.

Voters remain lukewarm about Obama's national security policies and expect more of the same if Hillary Clinton moves back into the White House next January. Trump, if elected, will definitely change things, voters say, but not necessarily for the best.

Only 30% of voters believe U.S. foreign policy in recent years has put America first. Sixty percent (60%) agree with Trump's earlier pronouncement that "no country has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first."

Voters under 40 are more supportive of the United States continuing its nation-building efforts than their elders are and are less likely to view such efforts as a failure.

Self-described politically liberal voters are less critical of U.S. nation-building efforts than conservatives and moderates are. Liberals are also more supportive of the United States going ahead with similar policies.

Interestingly, only 29% of voters who think the U.S. should continue nation-building efforts believe those policies have been a success so far, while nearly as many (22%) say they’ve been a failure. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of those who oppose continuing such policies say they’ve been a failure.

Only 22% of all voters now believe America’s mission in Iraq will be judged a success in the long run. Just 20% think America’s mission in Afghanistan will be judged a success in the long run.

Voters for years have expressed reluctance toward U.S. military interventions in countries such as Syria, Egypt, Libya and Iraq.

Voters continue to be skeptical about the political changes in the Middle East brought about by the so-called “Arab Spring” and worry they have made the United States less safe.

Only 28% said in March that the United States should do more to encourage the growth of democracy in the Islamic world.

Just 33% of voters believe the United States will still be the most powerful nation in the world by the end of the 21st century.

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

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