Partisan divide grows on foreign policy, poll finds

A clear majority of the country supports an active U.S. foreign policy, but Democrats and Republicans are increasingly divided on what that engagement should look like, according to a new survey of American attitudes from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

In general, the new survey showed that Republicans tend to favor using the possibility of force to settle the U.S.’s problems, whether they be Islamic extremism or threats to Israel.

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Democrats are less likely to support military action and instead support a more active role for international treaties and the United Nations.

The divide is only growing, and points to an especially vibrant debate in the upcoming presidential election.

“With the current administration’s term winding down, nearly two dozen candidates have already announced their intention to run for president of the United States in 2016,” the authors wrote. “To win, each will have to appeal to both his or her party base and the American public at large.

“In some cases, the survey shows that reconciling between these two may be a difficult task.”

According to the survey, majorities of both parties believe the U.S. should “take an active part in world affairs.”

However, a full two-thirds of Republicans say that Islamic fundamentalism is a serious threat, compared to just 48 percent of Democrats.

Immigration and climate change offer the biggest divides, with a 30 percentage-point gap between the two parties on questions about how to treat people who are in the country illegally and an even larger split on the seriousness of climate change.

A partisan divide also colors the prospects of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At 61 percent, a full majority of Democrats support the creation of an independent Palestinian state, while 60 percent of Republicans are opposed to the idea.

Lately, the nuclear deal with Iran has dominated headlines and grown into an increasingly partisan fight. Virtually all Republicans oppose the agreement on Capitol Hill, though a majority of Democrats support it.

In the new poll, a majority of Republicans said they support the idea of sending U.S. troops to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities if it violated its terms of the deal, while just 44 percent of Democrats agreed.

The Chicago Council survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research from May 25 through June 17. It polled a national sample of 2,034 adults with a margin of error from 2.2 to 3.1 percent, depending on the question.