American values differ from those of Western Europeans in many important ways. Most notably, Americans are more individualistic and are less supportive of a strong safety net than are the publics of Spain, Britain, France and Germany. However, Americans are coming closer to Europeans in not seeing their culture as superior to that of other nations.
President Barack Obama's job rating has improved modestly over the past month, although few Americans approve of the way he is handling the economy. In addition, a majority of Americans continue to hold a favorable personal opinion of Obama. This is not the case for his main GOP rivals, whom he mostly bests in test election measures.
In the last four national elections, generation has mattered more in American elections than it has in decades. This continues to be true as voters look ahead toward the 2012 general election. In a contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney, there is a 20-point gap in support for Obama between Millennials and the over-65 Silent generation.
The Tea Party has emerged as a political force on domestic issues, but Republican supporters of the movement have a distinct approach to national security and the U.S. role in the world. Tea Party Republicans favor an assertive foreign policy, are strong supporters of Israel and take a hard line against illegal immigration.
Despite the apparent success of NATO-supported rebel troops, public views about the decision to conduct air strikes in Libya remain mixed and have changed little since the U.S. and allies launched military operations there in late March.
The public continues to be divided over many of the anti-terrorism policies that arose in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks ten years ago. These differences extend to opinions about whether U.S. wrongdoing prior to 9/11 may have motivated the attacks.
Despite the struggling economy and broad dissatisfaction with national conditions, the public has a positive view of the United States' global standing. But more think that the U.S. is one of the greatest countries in the world than say it stands above all other countries.
Following Barack Obama’s June 22 speech about the Afghanistan war, there has been little change in public opinion about the president’s plans for drawing down the number of U.S. combat troops in that country. A plurality still thinks withdrawal plan is about the right pace.
For the first time, a majority (56%) says that U.S. troops should be brought home as soon as possible, while 39% favor keeping troops in Afghanistan until the situation has stabilized.
The proportion of conservative Republicans supporting U.S. activism in world affairs has fallen substantially since 2004 -- a shift that is part of a broader blurring of partisan differences in opinions about America's role in the world. Still, Republicans remain more supportive than Democrats and independents of the war in Afghanistan.