American Optimism Driven by Trump Republicans

The belief that the United States of America will be the world’s leading nation in 20 years is at its highest point in a decade.  The latest NBC/WSJ poll, conducted January 13-17, 2018, shows that 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of American adults say the U.S. will be the world’s leading nation in 20 years, compared to 26{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} who say China, the next highest country (the E.U., Japan, Russia, and India, all were five percent or lower).  This newfound optimism is driven principally by Republican Donald Trump voters.

When looking at the demographic groups that are most likely to say America will be the world’s leading nation two decades from now, nearly two-thirds (65{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of Republican adults say the U.S. will be the world’s leader, while 70{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Trump voters share this sentiment. Similarly, fully three in four voters (75{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) who say their 2018 Congressional vote will be a signal in support of President Trump say the U.S. will be the world leader in 20 years.

Only a handful of sub-groups do not believe America will be the future global leader, instead saying that China will be the leader in 20 years.  These are all Democratic subgroups, as seen in the below table ranked by the percent who say China will be the world leader:

This is a significant change from December 2011, when this question was last asked in the NBC/WSJ survey.  Americans overall were less likely as a whole to believe the U.S. would continue to be the world’s leading nation, with just 39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} choosing the U.S., and 35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} choosing China.

In 2011, Democrats were slightly more likely to have this belief, as seen in this chart that shows the percent of American adults who say the U.S. will be the world’s leading nation in 20 years:

This data shows that Donald Trump has re-instilled American optimism into his voters.  And, as has been seen on a myriad of other issues, his opponents have done an about face.

Finally, one important sub-group to monitor on this issue in relation to the upcoming 2018 Congressional elections are Americans who live in competitive Congressional Districts as defined by the Cook Political Report.  These voters favored a Democratic Congress by a rate of 46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}-44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in the January NBC/WSJ poll.  Yet, half (50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of these Americans believe the U.S. will be the world leader in 20 years – a message that America will continue to be great could help Republicans carry these districts in 2018.

Polling for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal is conducted by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Fred Yang. This analysis is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, The Wall Street Journal, or Hart Research Associates.

Public Opinion Strategies