New polling released by the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney ahead of the US midterm elections reveals the number of Americans who believe their alliance with Australia makes them more secure dramatically increased from 44 per cent in December of 2021 to 58 per cent in September 2022.
USSC CEO Dr Michael Green commented on the trend, “Australia has been becoming more front-of-mind in Washington DC for a while, but a 14 per cent increase in trust in alliance in less than a year is remarkable.”
The US midterms 2022: The stakes for Australia and the alliance report was written by USSC Director of Research Jared Mondschein and Research Associate Victoria Cooper. Mondschein highlighted, “Because Congress holds the purse strings for defence and foreign policy, this means AUKUS, climate change efforts and international trade are on the ballot.”
The report includes a look at sentiment toward domestic issues from abortion to inflation, but the focus is on the Indo-Pacific policy issues that may be impacted by changes in Congress.
Overall support for alliances was up across the issues polled. Mondschein said, “We tested sentiment toward a Taiwan invasion and US, Australian and Japanese respondents all were more willing to send military forces than not, but the majority preferred a ‘Ukraine’ model of economic isolation and providing Taiwan weapons.”
It is the first time USSC has expanded polling to include Japanese respondents. Dr Green noted, “Having another regional ally as a counterpoint gives greater context to the findings. While 27 per cent of Australians said they would want to increase the number of US troops in their country, only five per cent of Japanese respondents wanted to increase the number of US troops in Japan.”
Across the board, the trust between the three nations is trending at high levels, with the majority of Americans, Australians and Japanese choosing alliances over isolation.
- View the report US midterms 2022: The stakes for Australia and the alliance
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- US alliances are popular: A record 58 per cent of Americans say their alliance with Australia makes the United States more secure, a significant increase from 44 per cent in December 2021.
- Negative views of China have solidified across the region: America’s negative sentiment toward China remains bipartisan and unchanged from 2021 but also closely mirrors sentiment among America’s closest Asian allies — Australia and Japan.
- US, Australian and Japanese publics favour robust responses to Chinese aggression but prioritise diplomatic and economic approaches: Respondents in all three nations express more willingness than not when it comes to sending military forces in the event of a crisis in Taiwan, with nearly half of Australians willing to send military forces to help the United States defend Taiwan.
- Americans want trade agreements with Asia and share a scepticism of economic ties with China: Half of Americans think the United States should join trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership while the other half are split between those against joining and those who are unsure about it.
- All three publics want to broaden the alliance agenda: Trilateral support for the new AUKUS security partnership, particularly in the United States and Australia, dramatically outweighs criticism, with about half of US and Australian respondents and 28 per cent of Japanese respondents in favour of Australia having nuclear-powered submarines while only 18-19 per cent of respondents in the three countries were against it.
- Americans, and their allies to a lesser extent, are concerned about US democracy: Two-thirds or more of Americans are very concerned about Congress’ ability to do its job (71 per cent), misinformation (70 per cent) and the way their democracy is working (64 per cent).
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