Foreign Policy

NEW POLL: Americans still want focus on domestic issues, wary of war over Ukraine

December 17, 2021

ARLINGTON, Va.—A new YouGov poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute shows Americans are generally against the United States going to war with Russia if it were to invade Ukraine and would prefer to focus more on domestic priorities over foreign issues.

Will Ruger, Vice President of Research and Policy at the Charles Koch Institute, had this to say about the poll’s findings:

“The United States has no vital interests at stake in Ukraine and continuing to take actions that increase the risk of a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia is therefore not necessary for our security. After more than two decades of endless war abroad, it is not surprising there is wariness among the American people for yet another war that wouldn’t make us safer or more prosperous.

“At a time of record deficits, debt, and inflation, policy makers should not be surprised the American people want to see our wealthy European allies pay more for their own defense and for policy makers to prioritize challenges here at home. It makes no sense for the United States to continue to bear the bulk of the burden for the costs of maintaining NATO’s military power.”

The poll comes following weeks of reports of Russia building up a military presence along the Ukrainian border and efforts from some in Washington to bring Ukraine into NATO as a result. Relatedly, when told the US accounts for 70% of defense spending, the survey found the public agrees (60%) European NATO countries should be spending more on their own defense and a third (33%) think the U.S. should decrease the level of troops stationed in Europe, 37% think we should keep the same level of troops, while only 10% think we should increase troop levels. 

Highlights from the poll include:

  • Domestic issues should be a priority for the country. A vast majority (73%) of respondents think the U.S. should prioritize domestic issues over foreign policy issues. Notably, this sentiment was shared roughly equally across political identities (70% Dem, 76% Rep, 81% Ind/Oth).
  • No appetite for a war with Russia. A plurality of respondents (48%) would oppose going to war with Russia should it invade Ukraine. Only 27% would favor going to war, and 24% indicated they didn’t know. 
  • Limited support for more global military engagement. A plurality of respondents (40%) indicated they would like to see America less militarily engaged around the world, compared to only 10% who would rather increase our military involvement globally. 

VIEW THE SURVEY RESULTS HERE

ABOUT YOUGOV AND SURVEY METHODOLOGY

YouGov is an international research, data, and analytics group headquartered in London with a proprietary web-based panel of over 8 million people globally.

Respondents were polled between December 9 to December 13, 2021. YouGov used its web-based panel to interview 1,000 adult respondents. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race, and education. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2018 American Community Survey (ACS). In addition, further weighting and post-stratification were used. The estimated margin of error for the sample is +/- 3.4%.