POLITICS

Americans Expect Foreign Policy To Take Center Stage In 2016

A growing number expect the election to focus on foreign affairs, but an isolationist streak remains.

While Americans are increasingly concerned about foreign policy, they largely don't want the U.S. to become more active in international affairs, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll taken days after the Paris attacks.

Seventy percent of respondents said the world has become more dangerous in the past few years. Forty-eight percent of them now expect next year's presidential election to focus more on foreign than domestic policy, up 7 points since February and 15 points since August.

There's less consensus about exactly how the U.S. should be addressing those concerns, although a sense that the country should step back from the world stage dominates. A 44 percent plurality says that the U.S. is doing too much to help solve world problems, while another 19 percent think the nation is doing the right amount and 21 percent that it's doing too little.

And while 36 percent say the U.S. uses military force too often, 23 percent think that force is used about the right amount and 21 percent that it's used too rarely. (Nine percent of respondents say both that the country uses military force too rarely and does too much in solving the world's problems.)

Republicans are 26 points likelier than Democrats to say the world has become more dangerous, 13 points likelier to say the U.S. does too much to fix the world's problems and 28 points likelier to say the nation uses military force too rarely. Independents are more likely than either party to say that the country overuses military force.

The topic also causes some intra-party fractures, especially among Democrats. While the issue is less fraught among the candidates than it was in 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama clashed frequently over the Iraq War, party members are torn between interventionism and isolationism. Thirty-six percent say the U.S. does too much to solve world problems, 20 percent that it does too little and 27 percent that it does the right amount.

While relatively few Democrats think the U.S. is too slow to use military force, they're split on the idea of sending ground troops to fight the so-called Islamic State. Twenty-five percent of Democrats say they'd be more likely to support a president who wanted to send in ground troops, 23 percent say they'd be less likely and nearly half say it wouldn't be a major factor or that they're unsure.

Republicans also have a distinct isolationist wing: 21 percent say the country uses military force too often, and nearly half that the U.S. does too much to solve the world's problems. But unfortunately for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who's struggled to break through his party's primary with a non-interventionist message, the GOP remains overwhelmingly hawkish. Fifty-five percent would prefer a candidate who would send in troops against ISIS. Just 9 percent say they'd be less likely to support such a candidate and about a third say it wouldn't matter much, or aren't sure.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 16-18 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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