Polling | 22 April 2016

2016 Lowy Institute polling: Donald Trump polarises Australians

Almost half (45%) of Australian adults say that ‘Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Donald Trump’. Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

  • Alex Oliver

Almost half (45%) of Australian adults say that ‘Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Donald Trump’. Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

  • Alex Oliver

Almost half (45%) of Australian adults say that ‘Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Donald Trump’.

Faced with the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency in the United States, only a bare majority (51%) of Australians say we ‘should remain close to the United States regardless of who is elected US President’. 

This result is all the more striking in the context of Australians’ very consistent support for the ANZUS alliance in the Lowy Institute Poll’s history. In 2015, 80% of all voting-age Australians said that the US alliance was either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important for Australia’s security. Overall support for the alliance (the proportion of Australian adults who say the alliance is either ‘very’, ‘fairly’ or ‘somewhat’ important to Australia’s security) has never dropped below 90%.

Australians’ regard for the US alliance has been predicated on shared values and ideals. In Lowy Institute polling in 2011 and 2015, most Australians (78% in 2011 and 77% in 2015) agreed that ‘Australians and Americans share many common values and ideals. A strong alliance is a natural extension of this’.

However, the Poll’s findings since 2005 also show that Australian support for the alliance can be affected by the person who holds the role of US President. Although always strong, the low-point of Australians’ regard for the alliance came in 2007 during the second term of President George W. Bush, when only 63% regarded it as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important for Australia’s security. That year, 69% of Australian adults said that ‘President George W. Bush’ caused them to feel unfavourably towards the United States. 

Poll questions and results

The question put to survey respondents was:

‘And now about Australia’s relations with the United States and its President. If a person like Donald Trump were elected President of the United States, which one of the following statements comes closest to your personal view? Australia should remain close to the United States regardless of who is elected US President … [or] … Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Donald Trump’

Table of results:

 

2016

Australia should remain close to the United States regardless of who is elected US President

51%

Australia should distance itself from the United States if it elects a president like Donald Trump

45%

Neither/Don’t know/no view

4%

 

 

Notes

This result is drawn from the forthcoming 2016 Lowy Institute Poll, the full version of which will be released in June 2016. The Lowy Institute Poll is based on a nationally representative telephone survey of 1202 Australian adults conducted by market research company Fieldworks between 26 February and 15 March 2016. The Poll’s error margin is approximately +/- 2.8%.