January 21, 2015

Obama Faces Mixed Message From American Public

By Bruce Stokes, Director of Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to Chatham House

On 20 January, Democratic president Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to the Republican-controlled US Congress. His speech took place amid widespread speculation, both at home and abroad, of new-found bipartisan cooperation in Washington on a range of issues that affect US relations with the rest of the world. But as the immediate Republican reaction to the speech demonstrates, those expectations exist against a backdrop of continuing partisan gridlock in the United States, raising questions about the future course of US foreign policy.

Recent US public opinion findings give reason for both optimism and pessimism on these fronts. Americans’ isolationist sentiments, which had been at an all-time high just a year ago, seem to have eased a bit as the US faces challenges posed by both Islamic State (IS) and Russia. And Americans embrace global economic engagement.

Read more at Chatham House