Survey shows Americans to be historically divided over foreign policy issues
One stark example of that divide is the debate over prioritizing heavier control over illegal immigration. The council’s survey showed a 30-point difference between Democrats and Republicans on the issue, whereas a 2002 survey showed the difference was only five points.
Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said the intense debate over the Iran nuclear agreement has shown U.S. citizens still care deeply about foreign affairs, but that they are polarized as never before over whether military or diplomatic tools are the best way to secure U.S. power and influence.
"This survey reveals where the divides are deepest -- and helps us understand some of what may be driving the positions candidates are taking," Daalder said.
That debate over the use of hard or soft power to achieve policy goals extends to several major rifts in American public opinion. The survey found the most divisive foreign policy issues in the U.S. are immigration, the Israel-Palestine conflict, ISIS and how to deal with rising powers like Iran, Russia and China.
The survey showed climate change to be the most polarizing issue by far, with many Americans citing it as one of the most critical issues in need of immediate action, while others debate whether it matters or even exists.