WASHINGTON — In this time of war overseas, more Americans think foreign policy should be a top focus for the U.S. government in 2024, with a new poll showing international concerns and immigration rising in importance with the public.
Public Concerns on Foreign Policy
About 4 in 10 U.S. adults named foreign policy topics in an open-ended question that asked people to share up to five issues for the government to work on in the next year, according to a December poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
That’s about twice as many who mentioned the topic in the AP-NORC poll conducted last year.
Long-standing economic worries still overshadow other issues. But the new poll’s findings point to increased concern about U.S. involvement overseas — 20% voiced that sentiment in the poll, versus 5% a year ago.
International Conflicts and Public Anxiety
It also shows that the Israeli-Hamas war is feeding public anxiety. The conflict was mentioned by 5%, while almost no one cited it a year ago. The issue has dominated geopolitics since Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza after that group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israeli soil.
Four percent of U.S. adults mentioned the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as something for their government to focus on this year. That’s similar to the 6% who mentioned it at the end of 2022.
Political Parties and Foreign Policy
Foreign policy has gained importance among respondents from both parties. Some 46% of Republicans named it, up from 23% last year. And 34% of Democrats list foreign policy as a focal point, compared with 16% a year ago.
Warren E. Capito, a Republican from Gordonsville, Virginia, worries China could soon invade Taiwan, creating a third major potential source of global conflict for the U.S. “They would love to have us split three ways,” he said of China, and “we’re already spread so thin.”
Immigration as a Rising Bipartisan Concern
Immigration is also a rising bipartisan concern.
Overall, the poll found that concerns about immigration climbed to 35% from 27% last year. Most Republicans, 55%, say the government needs to focus on immigration in 2024, while 22% of Democrats listed immigration as a priority. That’s up from 45% and 14%, respectively, compared with December 2022.
Public Opinion on Economy and Inflation
Even as immigration and foreign policy rose as concerns, those issues were no match for worries about the economy. Inflation has fallen, unemployment is low, and the U.S. has repeatedly defied predictions of a recession — yet this poll adds to a string of them showing a gloomy outlook on the economy.
Public Confidence in Government
Just 5% of U.S. adults are “extremely” or “very” confident that the federal government can make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2024, with 7% of Democrats and 11% of independents being optimistic, compared with 1% of Republicans.