A Donald Trump supporter does have a worldview – and it’s largely that Americans are better off without the world.
The Pew survey on “America’s Place in the World”, released on Thursday, shows a supporter of the Republican presidential front-runner is more likely, even when compared to other Republicans, to feel the US should trade and invest less with the outside world and, in particular, do less economically with the developing world.
Curiously, Trump supporters are seemingly terrified about refugees flowing out of Syria and Iraq – ranking them second only to the Islamic State as a threat to the US.
Two-thirds, or 65%, of Trump supporters say US involvement in the global economy is a “bad thing”. The figure is less than half for Trump’s former rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
Those who like Trump, now almost certain to be the Republican candidate for the US presidency, have a particular animosity to developing countries, with just 32% supporting the import of more goods from developing countries, and nearly four-fifths opposing more foreign aid and 63% opposing US firms investing overseas.
In comparison, Cruz and Kasich supporters were evenly split on most of these issues, and were about 10 to 15 percentage points less opposed to foreign aid.
A remarkable 85% of Trump supporters see a “major threat” in the West Asian refugee crisis. This is about 10 percentage points more than a Cruz supporter and some 25 points more than a Kasich supporter.
At the other end of the spectrum, barely 34% of supporters of the Democratic socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders, were worried about refugees.
Given the US has agreed to accept only 10,000 Syrian refugees, this paranoia seems misplaced.
Most Trumpites support the US remaining part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a cornerstone of the post-war US foreign policy consensus. Trump has called for Nato to be abolished. However, they are still twice as more likely to support Trump’s line than other Republicans.
In other areas, the survey indicates, Trump supporters largely adhere to mainstream Republican foreign policy views. They worry about the decline of US power, even while believing America is still the world’s most powerful nation, and call for greater defence spending.
However, like most Americans, they do not see China or Russia as major threats to the US.
The survey’s broader conclusion is that a preference for a US withdrawal from the world is pervasive in the country, irrespective of political affiliation. A majority, 57%, of Americans want the US to “deal with its own problems, while letting other countries get along as best they can”.
The survey notes: “Just 37% say the US should help other countries deal with their problems. And more Americans say the US does too much (41%), rather than too little (27%), to solve world problems.”
In his outlining of a foreign policy where regional powers will have to do more heavy-lifting in solving global problems, Trump at least is in sync with the larger US population.