(WASHINGTON) — In the midst of his first foreign trip since taking office, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds a majority of the American public has a great deal or good amount of trust in President Joe Biden to negotiate on the country’s behalf with other world leaders.
That level of trust — 52% — roughly tracks the president’s overall approval rating, which averages 53%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker, and is about equal to the level of trust Americans have in Biden to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin specifically. Still, 3 in 10 Americans, including 70% of Republicans, say they do not trust Biden at all to negotiate with his foreign counterparts, and about 2 in 10 (18%) Americans say they trust the president just some.
A slightly larger majority (57%) say they have confidence in the president to do the right thing regarding world affairs, while about 4 in 10 (42%) do not have much or any confidence in Biden to do so, according to the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.
Compared to the level of trust and confidence in his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, at roughly the same point in his administration, Biden’s marks are noteworthy and even more so when factoring in the current level of partisan division in the United States.
In a July 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll, nearly half (47%) of Americans said they had no trust at all in the self-described “America First” president to negotiate on the country’s behalf with other world leaders. Although this most recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found about a quarter (24%) of Americans had no confidence at all in Biden to do the right thing regarding world affairs, for Trump, that figure was closer to 4 in 10 (38%), according to a spring 2017 Pew Research poll.
During his European trip, Biden is emphasizing the message that “America is back,” a reference to the tumultuous Trump years, when tensions grew between the United States and longtime allies. Back home, that message is resonating among a plurality of the American public — 44% of Americans say that under Biden, America’s global leadership has strengthened, while 36% say it has weakened. At a similar juncture (in July of Trump’s first year in office), the ABC News/Washington Post poll found that about a quarter (27%) of Americans thought America’s leadership in the world had gotten stronger while nearly half (48%) thought it had gotten weaker.
The president has several summits on his agenda during this trip, but none is more high stakes than the one with Putin on Wednesday in Geneva, where Biden will aim to strike a very different tone with that country’s leader than Trump.
Trump was routinely criticized for being too cozy with the Russian leader, once holding a joint press conference alongside him and seeming to take Putin’s word that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, implicitly rejecting U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings to the contrary.
About a third (34%) of Americans, according to this new poll, say they have no trust at all in Biden’s ability to negotiate on the United States’ behalf with Putin, but nearly half (48%) of Americans said they had no trust in Trump to do the same, according to the July 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Nearly half the public have either a great deal (26%) or good amount (23%) of trust in Biden to negotiate with Putin. For Trump, just over 3 in 10 (32%) Americans felt the same in July 2017.
Asked about a broad array of long-range foreign policy goals, for which all results can be found here, an overwhelming majority (92%) of Americans say at least some priority should be given to limiting the power and influence of Russia. Four in 10 Americans say this should be given top priority.
There is little partisan difference on this, too: 46% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans think limiting Russia’s influence and power should be given top priority while 51% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans think it should be given some priority.
When it comes to how much priority should be given to limiting China’s power and influence, however, the partisan gap widens.
Overall, the vast majority (92%) of Americans say this should be given top (45%) or some (47%) priority, but Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say limiting China’s power and influence should be given top priority — 60% versus 34%.
Throughout his administration, and specifically during this trip, Biden has pitched his foreign policy philosophy as “foreign policy for the middle class,” and that message seems to be resonating with the public, according to this ABC News/Ipsos poll.
In the context of long-range foreign policy goals, about two-thirds (65%) of the county say that protecting the jobs of American workers should be given top priority. Among Republicans, this view is stronger than it is among the overall population and Democrats, with 79% of Republicans saying protecting American jobs should be given top priority compared to 57% of Democrats.
The level of priority Americans feel should be given to protecting American workers’ jobs ranks almost as high as it does for taking measures to protect the United States from terrorist attacks.
Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) Americans, including 76% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats, say taking measures to protect the country from terrorism should be a top foreign policy priority; about a quarter (26%) say this should be given some priority.
As the crisis at the U.S. southern border continues, immigration remains a more animating issue for Republicans, who continue to criticize the Biden administration’s response to the situation.
Only 2 in 10 Democrats say that reducing the number of undocumented immigrants coming to the United States should be given top priority, while about three-quarters (74%) of Republicans say it should be. Overall, less than half (44%) of Americans say this should be given top priority.
And as Biden and the rest of the G-7 leaders pledge to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to low income nations in need, including 500 million from the United States alone, nearly 6 in 10 (58%) Americans say that reducing the spread of infectious diseases should be given top priority among long-term foreign policy goals, with another 37% of Americans saying it should be given some priority.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs’ KnowledgePanel® June 11 to 12, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 509 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.7 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-25-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.
ABC News’ Dan Merkle and Ken Goldstein contributed to this report.
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