Americans support President Biden in believing that the global influence of the United States depends on getting our own house in order. But they are far more favorable to trade and globalization than the administration and its detractors seem to believe.


President Biden’s “Foreign Policy for the Middle Class” strategy focuses the United States’ global engagement on achieving concrete results for everyday Americans while meeting challenges at home. The Chicago Council’s 2021 survey reveals that Americans agree that focusing on domestic issues will improve the United States’ global position and want to take aggressive action to compete with China. Contrary to the mainstream discourse of “foreign policy for the middle class”, however, majorities say that globalization is primarily good for the United States, view international trade as beneficial, and say that maintaining U.S. military superiority is important.


Domestic-global connection

  • The public thinks that the rich (50%) and big business (59%) benefit a lot from American foreign policy, rather than the American middle class (11%).

  • Americans say making real progress at home, improving education (73%), strengthening democracy (70%) and maintaining the economic strength of the United States (66%), helps the United States to increase their global influence.

Competition with China

  • There is broad support for trade restrictions against China (62%) and for government funding for research and development of emerging technologies to give US companies an edge over foreign companies (79%).

  • For the first time in a Council poll, less than half of Americans (46%) say the United States is stronger than China in terms of military might.

Support for globalization and trade

  • A record number of Americans (68%) now say globalization is mostly good for the United States, and nearly three-quarters or more see international trade as good.

  • Almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) say it is better for the United States to take an active role in world affairs than to stay out of world affairs (35%).

Maintain military strength

  • While a large majority of Americans supported the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, 57% say that maintaining US military superiority is a very important factor for the US global influence.

  • Majorities want to either maintain or increase the US military presence in Asia-Pacific (79%), Africa (73%), Latin America (73%), Europe (72%) and the Middle East (68%) ).


The Chicago Council Survey 2021 was conducted July 7-26 with a weighted national sample of 2,086 adults. For more details, including survey methodology, please read the full survey report. The Chicago Council Survey, conducted every four years since 1974, every two years since 2002, and every year since 2014, is a reliable and widely cited source of longitudinal data on American public opinion on a wide range of foreign policy issues. and internationals from the United States.


The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, non-partisan organization that provides insight and information on critical global issues, offers policy solutions, and fosters dialogue about what’s going on in the world and why it matters. The Council believes that an informed and engaged public helps ensure effective United States engagement with the world.

CONTACT: Taylor Barton - Assistant Director, Communications The Chicago Council on Global Affairs [email protected]