As Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares for the rare honour of a state dinner at the Trump White House on Friday (US time), a new poll shows Americans believe they have no better friend than Australia.

“From the American point of view, Australia is a key ally. From the perspective of President Trump, the United States runs a trade surplus with Australia, and Australia is rare among US allies in lifting its defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP,” United States Studies Centre (USSC) CEO Professor Simon Jackman said.

But polling by the USSC and YouGov indicates this is a relationship that exists beyond the level of policy elites: almost all Americans identify Australia as a friend or ally, and Australians reciprocate that notion.

In July 2019, the USSC and YouGov surveyed 1,820 Americans, asking them to rate 14 countries on a scale from “ally”, “friendly”, “unfriendly”, to "enemy" of the United States. A similar exercise was given to 1,800 Australian survey respondents, eliciting assessments of Australia’s relationships with the same set of countries.

Professor Jackman said the responses show that 97 per cent of Americans rate Australia as a friend or ally. This was the highest ranking among 14 countries. Similarly, 93 per cent of Australians rate the United States as a friend or ally.

“Inside America’s political and foreign policy establishment, Australia is a highly regarded ally, but our data tell us that this is also a feeling shared by the general public,” said Professor Jackman. 

“Six in ten Americans report that Australia is an ally of the United States. This was exceeded by only two other countries, the United Kingdom (65 per cent) and Canada (64 per cent), but by amounts that are not statistically meaningful.

“Americans are much more likely to see Australia as an ally than other US partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including New Zealand (53 per cent), Japan (50 per cent) and South Korea (47 per cent)," Jackman added.

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