Why Trump Won’t Lose Many Voters Over Syria
Published in The Washington Post
on October 15, 2019
Trump’s rash decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria has received harsh criticism from the foreign policy establishment of both parties. That blowback may lead him to reconsider his decision. But if he doesn’t, don’t expect him to lose much voter support over it.
Americans are not focused on foreign policy right now. They do focus on it when American lives are directly threatened, as many perceived was the case a few years back when the Islamic State was growing and terrorist attacks around the globe were frequently in the news. But that’s not the case today. A recent Economist/You Gov poll asked voters about 15 issues, including the war in Afghanistan and foreign policy more broadly. Both were listed by a mere 1 percent as their most important priority, tied for last among all the issues polled.
Voters are also not especially favorable to U.S. involvement in conflicts such as the one in Syria when they do think about foreign policy. The Center for American Progress recently released a comprehensive poll detailing voter attitudes about U.S. foreign policy. The results should worry backers of the foreign policy status quo.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.