Geopolitics

Introducing Morning Consult’s U.S. Foreign Policy Sentiment Indexes

Graphic representing Morning Consult U.S. Foreign Policy Sentiment Indexes
Unsplash / Morning Consult artwork by Vince Wanga
  • Morning Consult’s U.S. Foreign Policy Sentiment Indexes provide aggregate metrics of voters’ attitudes toward isolationism and multilateralism, and serve as a bellwether for how Americans want the U.S. government to conduct foreign policy.

  • This memo outlines how each index is constructed.

  • Consult our U.S. Foreign Policy Tracker for the latest index measurements and data for select component series.

  • Complete data for all indexes and component series is available to Morning Consult clients upon request.

Overview and use cases

Morning Consult’s U.S. Foreign Policy Sentiment Indexes measure voters’ attitudes toward isolationism and multilateralism. The indexes’ component series span a wide range of foreign policy issue areas — including openness to trade and foreign investment, the deployment of U.S. troops overseas, and engagement with international organizations like the United Nations, among others. They offer a holistic outlook on the trajectory of Americans’ foreign policy preferences.

The indexes are intended to help multinational business leaders and government affairs personnel, financial services providers, government officials, and other interested parties forecast the direction of U.S. foreign policy — especially during periods of heightened geopolitical instability and/or electoral turnover in the legislative and executive branches — by assessing the intensity and form of U.S. engagement in global affairs or, conversely, U.S. retrenchment.

Our U.S. Foreign Policy Tracker visualizes the indexes, comparing sentiment across Democrats and Republicans to help identify areas of partisan divergence and alignment, and informs forecasts of policymaking by Congress and the executive branch.

Indexes of U.S. Isolationism and Engagement

Morning Consult’s Indexes of U.S. Isolationism and Engagement assess whether Americans prefer U.S. foreign policy to be more or less isolationist.

The index is composed of three aggregate series: “Isolationism,” reflecting the shares of U.S. voters who prefer a more isolationist foreign policy; “Engagement,” reflecting the shares who prefer a less isolationist foreign policy; and “Stability,” reflecting the shares who prefer U.S. foreign policy to remain the same.

Values reported for each aggregate series derive from a simple average of six component series spanning three thematic issue areas: (1) soft power and foreign aid, covering attitudes toward involvement in other countries’ affairs and foreign aid provision; (2) overseas military engagement, covering support for U.S. troop deployments and involvement in military conflicts; and (3) trade and investment policies, covering preferences toward tariffs on foreign goods and barriers to inward foreign investment.

The table below explains how the aggregate series are constructed.

Indexes of U.S. Isolationism and Engagement

Design and component series

Indexes of U.S. Multilateralism and Unilateralism

Morning Consult’s Indexes of U.S. Multilateralism and Unilateralism assesses whether Americans prefer U.S. foreign policy to be multilateral or unilateral.

The index is composed of three aggregate series: “Multilateralism,” reflecting the shares of U.S. voters who prefer a more multilateral foreign policy; “Unilateralism,” reflecting the shares who prefer the United States to go it alone; and “Stability,” reflecting the shares who prefer U.S. foreign policy to remain the same.

Values reported for each aggregate series derive from a simple average of three component series spanning three thematic issue areas: (1) U.S. involvement in international organizations like the United Nations; (2) policy coordination in the context of military dispute resolution, covering attitudes toward addressing global military disputes in coordination with U.S. partners and allies as opposed to going it alone; and (3) policy coordination with U.S. partners and allies in the context of economic dispute resolution, covering the same attitudes in the context of global economic disputes.

The table below explains how the aggregate series are constructed.

Indexes of U.S. Multilateralism and Unilateralism

Design and component series

Index data frequency and survey composition

All data used to construct Morning Consult’s U.S. Foreign Policy Sentiment Indexes derives from weekly surveys fielded among representative samples of roughly 2,000 U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points. The data is weighted to approximate representative samples of voters. Data is collected through Morning Consult’s proprietary survey research capabilities. Interviews are conducted online.

Where to find the indexes and component series data

Public-facing index measurements and data for select component series are featured in Morning Consult’s U.S. Foreign Policy Tracker, alongside an assessment of Americans’ top foreign policy concerns.

Complete data for all indexes as well as their component series is available to Morning Consult clients upon request. Contact press@morningconsult.com for more information.