October 13, 2011

The Role of the U.S. in the World

58%

Nearly six in ten Americans (58%) say we should pay less attention to problems overseas and instead concentrate on problems here at home, while 33% say it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.

While Americans hold disparate views on how the U.S. should pursue its military and foreign policy, these issues generally do not represent the deepest divides across the subgroups of Republican, Democratic and independents identified in the political typology study released in May of this year by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Reflecting the current focus on domestic economic issues, 58% of the public say we should pay less attention to problems overseas and instead concentrate on problems here at home, while 33% say it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs. Six years ago, 49% of people said we should concentrate on problems at home and 44% supported being active in world affairs.

A majority of every group studied in the typology — with just one exception — say that the U.S. should focus on problems at home to some degree. The exception is Solid Liberals, who are divided equally on the question at 47%. The two groups who believe most strongly that the U.S. should focus on domestic problems are ones that are financially struggling: Hard Pressed Democrats and Disaffecteds, who are mostly independent. More than seven in ten of each of these groups wants the U.S. to concentrate on problems at home.

Majorities in both of the predominantly Republican groups – Staunch Conservatives and Main Street Republicans – favor focusing on problems at home over being active in the world. Go here to find the definitions for the groups in the typology. Read More