Many Americans say the United States’ influence in the world is declining

Americans overwhelmingly view China as a “rival” or “enemy” of the United States, not a “partner”. And most adults in the United States don’t seem to think their country is winning the competition for geopolitical influence, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.

Nearly half of Americans (47%) say the United States’ influence in the world has begun to wane in recent years. Only one in five say US influence is getting stronger, while 32% say US influence has remained more or less the same.

This stands in stark contrast to views of China: two-thirds of adults in the United States say the country’s influence is growing. more powerful In the last years. Nearly one in five Americans say China’s global influence remains stable, and only one in ten say China’s influence is waning.

Pew Research Center conducted this study to measure American opinion on the international influence of foreign countries and international institutions. To analyze the impact of the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union, we surveyed 10,188 American adults from May 16-22, 2022. To analyze all other questions, we surveyed 3,581 American adults from March 21-27, 2022. Everyone who participated in This survey is a member of the Center’s American Attitude Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited by national random sampling of residential addresses. In this way, almost all adults in the United States have the opportunity to choose. The survey was weighted to be representative of the adult population of the United States by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education, and other categories. Read more about the ATP methodology.

Below is the first set of questions used in this report, along with the answers, and the second set of questions used, along with the responses, and their methodology.

Bar chart showing majority of Republicans saying US global influence is weakening

Views on the relative influence of these two forces in the international arena are closely related to both partisanship and ideology. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are much more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to say that the United States’ influence in the world is weaker (63% and 37%, respectively). Conservative Republicans who describe themselves as being more likely than moderate or liberal Republicans to hold this view (70% vs. 47%), while liberal Democrats are more likely than conservative or moderate Democrats to say that US influence has been waning (43% vs. 32 %).

Republicans are also more likely than Democrats to believe that China’s international influence has grown stronger in recent years (72% vs. 63%). Previous research has found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to view China’s power and influence as a major threat to the United States.

Again, this view is likely to be embraced from both ends of the ideological spectrum. Nearly eight in ten conservative Republicans (78%) say China’s influence is increasing, compared to 60% of moderate and liberal Republicans. Among Democrats, 72% of liberals think China’s influence is increasing, while only 57% of moderates and conservatives say the same.

Men are somewhat more likely than women to say that the United States’ influence in the world is weakening, while women are more likely to see stability in the country’s relative influence. Differences by age or education are generally more muted.

Perspectives on the influence of other countries and international institutions

The survey also asked Americans about the global impact of several other countries, as well as a few major international institutions.

Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, opinions on Russian influence are widely divided, with an equal share saying Russia’s influence is getting stronger (38%) and weakening (37%). Only one in five Americans says Russia’s influence remains the same.

A bar graph showing Americans divided on whether Russia's global influence is getting stronger or weaker

Nor is there a consensus among Americans about the influence of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations. Of these three, the highest percentage of Americans say NATO’s influence on the world stage has grown stronger in recent years (34%), with 39% saying its influence has been constant, and a quarter saying that NATO’s influence is waning. Again, these views correlate with partisanship and ideology: Liberal Democrats are more likely to say NATO’s influence is getting stronger (42%), while conservative Republicans are more likely to say NATO’s influence is weakening (33%).

Some described Russia’s dismay at NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe as a motive for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after which Finland and Sweden announced bids to join the military alliance after decades of nonalignment. The EU has also had a role to play in the recent conflict, including discussions over Ukraine’s membership and sanctions against Russia.

About one in five adults in the United States (22%) say the EU’s international influence is getting stronger, while a third say it is weakening. A majority (43%) believe that the influence of the European Union remains constant.

Americans are more negative about the influence of the United Nations, with about four in ten American adults saying that its influence has waned in recent years. The UN Security Council has been heavily criticized for failing to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, because Russia’s permanent seat on the council means it has a veto over all resolutions. Only 16% of Americans say that the influence of the United Nations in the world is getting stronger.

Americans largely see stability in the influence of France, India, Germany and the United Kingdom, with six in ten or more saying the influence of these countries has remained the same in recent years. Notably, more than twice as many Americans say India’s influence is strengthening rather than weakening (23% vs. 11%). The opposite is true for the UK: 23% say its influence is getting weaker and only 13% say it is getting stronger.

Table showing Democrats likely to see US allies' influence grow;  Republicans are likely to see Russia getting stronger

Democrats are somewhat more likely than Republicans to say that the influence of a few key US allies (such as France, Germany, NATO and the European Union) is increasing. For example, four out of ten Democrats say NATO’s influence in the world has become stronger in recent years (39%), compared to about three in ten Republicans (29%).

On the other hand, Republicans are more likely to say that Russia’s influence in the world is increasing. Ideology also plays a role in this assessment: Conservative Republicans are more likely than moderate and liberal Republicans to say that Russia’s influence has been increasing in recent years.

Knowledge of international affairs related to opinions

Table showing that views on Chinese and Russian influence are related to the level of international knowledge

Opinions are also related to respondents’ level of international knowledge. (International knowledge in this survey was measured with 12 multiple-choice questions about global leaders, international institutions, and geography. For more information on the International Knowledge Scale, see “How We Designed a Scale to Measure Americans’ Knowledge of International Affairs.”)

Those with high levels of knowledge are more likely than others to say that China, India and Germany have had an increasing international influence in recent years. In the case of China, the knowledge gap is quite large: 82% of those with high international knowledge think that China’s influence is getting stronger, while only 45% of those with low knowledge say the same.

The United States is the only country where more international knowledge is linked to more pessimistic views. More than half of Americans with high international knowledge (54%) say the United States’ influence in the world has become weaker, compared to about a third of Americans with low international knowledge (35%).

Note: This is the first set of questions used in this report, along with the responses, and the second set of questions used, along with the responses, and its methodology.

Aidan Connaughton He is a research associate focusing on global attitudes research at the Pew Research Center.

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