Jump to:


Poll: Three in Four Say International Issues Impact their Vote

Voters favor a candidate who emphasizes international cooperation with organizations like the United Nations

October 15, 2012

On debate night, voters want to hear about
Afghanistan, Iran & Middle East

Washington (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Oct. 15, 2012) –Bipartisan polling data released today by the Better World Campaign reveals that three out of four Americans say international issues influence their vote; they prefer a candidate who emphasizes international cooperation; and that when thinking about international issues, they want to see "America doing its fair share around the world.”  Yet nearly half of those polled say the presidential candidates are not yet discussing international issues enough as part of their campaigns.

"As presidential candidates prepare to debate international affairs, it’s clear that U.S. voters see global issues as having a real impact here at home,” said Peter Yeo, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign. “The data shows Americans want a candidate who champions strong international cooperation and who will work collaboratively with international organizations like the United Nations. As we prepare for the next two debates that will address international affairs, now is an apt time for the candidates to address America’s role in the world.”

The nationwide poll of likely voters, conducted October 4-7 by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates, also reveals that, to achieve our foreign policy goals, some eight in 10 say it’s best to work with major allies and through international organizations, versus acting mainly on our own. This reinforces earlier 2012 figures showing that voters say it’s important for the U.S. to maintain an active role in the United Nations.  

Poll respondents were also asked what question they would pose to the candidates at the debate, given the opportunity. The top responses show that an overwhelming number of Americans would inquire: What can the U.S. do to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan; what is each candidate’s Middle East strategy; and how can we address nuclear threats such as Iran?

“The candidates should take note: the top questions Americans would ask of them are around issues where our interests are directly furthered by international organizations like the United Nations,” added Yeo. “For example, in Afghanistan, troop withdrawals are being aided by the UN mission’s work to disarm rebel groups, strengthen judicial systems and train police forces. In the Middle East, the UN is leading efforts toward aiding refugees, providing humanitarian aid, and facilitating free and fair elections. And since the adoption of UN sanctions against Iran, the U.S. has worked closely with the Security Council to impede the smuggling of weapons as well as access to funds to continue illicit nuclear programs. These and other sanctions have had a pronounced effect on Iran’s economy.”

Furthermore, when asked why foreign policy is important to their decision, the poll revealed three core areas: The U.S. needing strong allies; the U.S. needing to maintain its role as a strong leader in the world; and the need to maintain strong national security. “Again, in the areas where voters find the most common ground and share priorities, the United Nations plays a central role to achieving results,” said Yeo.

Voters were also presented with viewpoints from three hypothetical candidates (candidates “Smith,” “Jones,” and “Miller”) whose views ranged on the political spectrum. The most favored candidate emphasized international cooperation and that “we need to work through international organizations like the United Nations to make sure America’s values and interests are respected around the world.”

“As election polls continue to show the American electorate split on a variety of issues, a majority of voters find consensus on the value of international collaboration and continued U.S. engagement at international organizations like the UN, which ensure our ability to lead efforts to build a safer and more just world for future generations,” said Yeo.

For a memo detailing the full results of the polling, click here

About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign (BWC), an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.