80% Democrats, 43% Republicans Have Favorable View of U.N.

Patrick Goodenough | September 21, 2016 | 6:27am EDT
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President Obama, seen on screen, addresses the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Tuesday, September 20, 2016. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

(CNSNews.com) – Americans overall have a slightly more positive view of the United Nations now than they did during President Obama’s first year in office, but the divide between Republicans and Democrats on the subject is the biggest measured by the Pew Research Center since it began asking the question in 1990.

As the world body hosts leaders for the annual General Assembly session opening and parallel events in New York City, Pewreports that there is a 37 percent difference between Republican and Democratic respondents when asked whether they view the U.N. favorably.

Eighty percent of Democrats say they view the U.N. favorably, compared to just 43 percent of Republicans. Sixty-four percent of independents share that opinion.

That gap of 37 percent is the biggest yet measured by Pew, it said.

Obama, who has made deeper engagement with the U.N. a key foreign policy priority, addressed the General Assembly for the last time on Tuesday.

American taxpayers account for 22 percent of the regular budget of the U.N., plus 28.5 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget. The U.S. in addition provides billions of dollars more each year in “voluntary contributions” to a spread of U.N. agencies, ranging from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.

In 1990, the partisan divide among Americans about the value of the U.N. stood at just five points – 73 percent of Democrats, and 68 percent of Republicans held favorable views. Supporters of both parties held overall positive opinions of the U.N. until 9/11.

Pew surveys found that Republican support for the U.N. dropped below 50 percent after the 2003 Iraq War, and has remained in that territory or lower ever since, reaching a nadir of 38 percent favorability in 2007 (when the partisan gap was 20 points.)


Democratic support for the U.N. also declined over that period, dropping to as low as 58 percent favorability in 2006 (when the partisan gap was 16 points.)

But while Democrats’ favorable views of the U.N. have generally been climbing since 2006 – and have never been below 70 percent since Obama took office – among Republicans favorable views of the U.N. during the Obama years drifted between a high of 51 percent in 2011 to a low of 41 percent in 2013. The new poll puts it at 53 percent.

Overall, Pew found in its spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey that 64 percent of Americans hold favorable views of the U.N. while 29 percent hold unfavorable ones.

The 64 percent favorability rating compares to 61 percent in 2009 – in a survey published six months after Obama took office – and to 48 percent in 2007.

That headline result of the new Pew poll – that 64 percent of respondents view the U.N. favorably and 29 percent unfavorably – differs significantly from surveying by Gallup, which has been tracking public opinion on the U.N. since the 1950s.

Asking the question, “Do you think the United Nations is doing a good job or a poor job in trying to solve the problems it has had to face?” Gallup earlier this year found just 38 percent of respondents saying the U.N. was doing a “good job” while 54 percent said it was doing a “poor job.”


The proportion of Gallup respondents saying the U.N. is doing a “good job” is higher in 2016 than it was in 2009 (26 percent “good job” / 65 percent “poor job”), but considerably lower than in 2002 (58 percent “good job / 36 percent “poor job.”)

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