In a new Lowy Institute polling, a lesser half – 45% of Australians 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, a major half – 51% of Australians say we ‘should remain close to the United States regardless of who is elected US President’.
Those surveyed were asked, ‘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’.
Commenting on the results, Dr. Michael Fullilove, the Lowy Institute’s Executive Director, said, “By allying ourselves with the United States, I believe that we contribute to global security as well as our own.
“That nearly half of Australians would seek to move away from America in the event of a Trump victory says something quite disturbing about the GOP frontrunner.”
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.
The results are from the forthcoming 2016 Lowy Institute Poll, which will be fully released in June 2016.