When he first ran for president in 2016, candidate Donald Trump promised that he was going to put America First. His vision for the United States’ role in the world contrasted with the internationalism of his predecessors. Under this new outlook, the world was not a global community but an arena of competition. Nations were expected to always put their own interests first, allying with other nations where their interests aligned and competing where their interests diverged. Unsurprisingly then, the citizens of other nations, particularly European nations, did not take a liking to President Trump. In turn, the President has always pivoted this unpopularity abroad to a strength, stating that his goal isn’t to be popular in Europe but in the United States, that he does not intend to serve Europeans but Americans.
In a poll conducted this past Sunday, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies asked British voters what they thought of the presidential election in America. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a majority of voters said that, if they themselves were voters in the United States, they would vote for Joseph Biden while just 15% said they would vote for Donald Trump.
The American president performed best among those who voted Conservative in December 2019, where 26% said they would support him. However, even among this demographic he is still losing to Biden.
At the same time, Conservative voters were actually split about whether Biden or Trump would be the better ally to the United Kingdom. Whereas, with 46% of respondents, Biden is the preferred ally for our overall sample, Conservative voters were almost evenly split between Biden, Trump, and ‘Don’t Know.’
More interestingly, we found overwhelming support for one of the Presidents latest measures to fight the coronavirus: a complete halt to all immigration. The measure, which had found widespread support in our own American poll, was supported by two-thirds of our British sample. In fact, 69% wanted the same policy applied here in the United Kingdom, which has not put in place a similar policy yet, with only 15% saying they did not want it.
Thinking about the situation in the United States more generally, nearly half of respondents said its newest residents Prince Harry and Megan Markle they thought the former Royals will be happier living life outside of the royal family.
A majority of respondents, however, thought it would take at least 9 months until it is safe again for themselves to visit the United States, with 38% expecting it to take at least a year.
What this will mean for exchanges between the two countries remains to be seen.
This research was also published in Newsweek: here and here.