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2023 Survey of Public Opinion on US Foreign Policy

RESEARCH Public Opinion Survey by Dina Smeltz , Karl Friedhoff , Craig Kafura , and Lama El Baz
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting in Kyiv
AP Photos

The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to impact American attitudes toward global engagement.

The 2023 Chicago Council Survey, conducted September 7–18, finds US involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine has played a role in American attitudes on foreign policy. Though still considerable, support for continued assistance to Kyiv has slipped from previous readings, and public support has also dampened for defending US allies and maintaining US military bases abroad.

Republicans, in particular, have grown more doubtful of the value of continued US engagement overseas. For the first time in nearly 50 years of Council polling, a majority of Republicans think the United States should stay out of world affairs rather than play an active part.

This decline among everyday Republicans likely reflects debates within the GOP leadership itself, which has become increasingly divided over the value of American financial commitments overseas, including continued assistance to Ukraine. The survey data further show that GOP questions about the value of continuing contributions to Kyiv—and Democratic unity on the issue—are likely influencing other traditional areas of foreign policy, which have been consistently bipartisan in past surveys. While Republicans have grown more skeptical about using US troops to defend allies in Europe, Democrats have become more supportive of doing so. These partisan divisions may continue and potentially grow as the war in Ukraine—and the US debate over support to Kyiv—continue.

But the data also show that Republicans who want to stay out of world affairs do not differ so much from those who prefer active engagement when it comes to issues such as the rise of China or immigration policy. Thus far, the effects of the debate over US involvement in the war in Ukraine seem to focus on differences on what priorities are most important for the United States to pursue in its foreign policy, the value of maintaining a US global military presence, and the use of US troops to defend allies in scenarios not involving top concerns for Republicans.  

Explore more survey findings below.

About the Authors
Vice President, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Headshot for Dina Smeltz
Dina Smeltz, a polling expert, has more than 25 years of experience designing and fielding international social and political surveys. Prior to joining the Council to lead its annual survey of American attitudes on US foreign policy, she served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department's Office of Research from 1992 to 2008.
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Marshall M. Bouton Fellow for Asia Studies
Council expert Karl Friedhoff
Karl Friedhoff was a Korea Foundation-Mansfield Foundation US-Korea Nexus Scholar and a member of the Mansfield Foundation’s Trilateral Working Group prior to joining the Council. Previously, he was a program officer in the Public Opinion Studies Program at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies based in Seoul, South Korea.
Council expert Karl Friedhoff
Director of Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
headshot of Craig Kafura
Craig Kafura is the director of public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, and a Pacific Forum Young Leader. At the Council, he coordinates work on public opinion and foreign policy and is a regular contributor to the public opinion and foreign policy blog Running Numbers.
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Research Assistant, Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy
Headshot for Lama El Baz
Lama El Baz joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in 2023 as a research assistant for the public opinion and US foreign policy team within the Lester Crown Center. She is passionate about public opinion research, data analytics, and the regional affairs of the Middle East and North Africa.
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