Press release

Americans Willing to Stand Up for Human Rights and Freedom of Others: Most Believe U.S. Should Support Ukraine and Activists in Iran

HarrisX conducts national poll with George W. Bush Institute and Freedom House on public perceptions of democracy at home and abroad

DALLASThe majority of Americans are supportive of standing with others around the world in their fight for human rights and freedom, according to a new national poll of registered voters by the global research consultancy HarrisX in collaboration with the George W. Bush Institute and Freedom House. Fifty-four percent of voters believe the U.S. should support activists in Iran, 61% support providing weapons and other assistance to Ukraine, and 59% support U.S. government officials visiting Taiwan, even at the risk of increased diplomatic tensions with China, according to the poll.

“The survey results are heartening and show that the U.S. remains committed to the cause of freedom around the globe,” said David J. Kramer, executive director of the George W. Bush Institute. “Freedom and democracy, after all, are issues at the core of who we are and what we do here at the Bush Institute.”

The poll was commissioned ahead of the Nov. 16 Struggle for Freedom conference. The full-day conference featured conversations on Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and the importance of pushing back on authoritarian threats. In addition, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen provided virtual remarks on advancing the cause of liberty.

“The strength and extent of Americans’ support for democratic rights and institutions gives me great hope for the future of freedom globally,” said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Freedom House was founded during World War II on the principle that the fate of US democracy is inextricable from the fate of democracy abroad, and that oppression anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. It’s vital that we carry that spirit into the fight against modern authoritarianism.”

The survey also found that 53% of registered voters believe democracy is expanding, while 47% believe democracy is in retreat. Freedom House’s Freedom in the World research shows in 2011, 43.3% of the global population lived in countries rated as Free, compared to just 20.3% in 2021.

In addition to questions about key foreign policy challenges facing the nation and perceptions of democracies overseas, voters were also surveyed about the health of U.S. democracy. The survey reveals that trust in elections remains a critical challenge for the nation, and that voters are frustrated by the general workings of U.S. democracy. Fifty-four percent of American voters are confident in the future of U.S. democracy, but worryingly, only 55% firmly believe the U.S. will be a democracy in 20 years.

“Our research shows that, above all, the arsenal of democracy consists of the unwavering commitment to liberty and democratic institutions voters have in the United States and abroad, and the fact they are both very sensitive to the challenges presently faced and willing to make sacrifices for the preservation of democratic order where it is under threat,” said Dritan Nesho, CEO and chief researcher at HarrisX.

Among other findings:

  • Three in five voters support accepting Ukraine into NATO and either using peacekeepers to work toward a diplomatic solution or using NATO forces to neutralize Russian forces.
  • Voters want the U.S. to support U.S. official visits to Taiwan, but still support a policy of “strategic ambiguity.”
  • Voters want the U.S. to maintain their level of democracy promotion or engage in more, but with less resources.
  • The vast majority of voters, 76%, including 58% of Republican voters, believe the 2022 midterm elections were conducted fairly.
  • Only 38% of registered voters think U.S. democracy is functioning well or very well.
  • A small majority of voters believe democracy is getting worse in the U.S., driven by views of Republican voters; Democrats were more optimistic.

To request the full slides of the survey results, please contact Alexandra Trollip at [email protected].

Methodology: HarrisX conducted this survey online within the United States from Nov. 11 – Nov. 13, 2022 among 1,866 registered voters. The sampling margin of error of this poll is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. The results reflect a nationally representative sample of registered voters. Results were weighted for age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, political party, education, ideology, and area type where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

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About Freedom House

Freedom House is a nonprofit, nonpartisan democracy organization that works to create a world where all are free.  We inform the world about threats to freedom, mobilize global action, and support democracy’s defenders. Learn more at FreedomHouse.org.

About the George W. Bush Institute
The George W. Bush Institute is a solution-oriented nonpartisan policy organization focused on ensuring opportunity for all, strengthening democracy, and advancing free societies. Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Bush Institute is rooted in compassionate conservative values and committed to creating positive, meaningful, and lasting change at home and abroad. We utilize our unique platform and convening power to advance solutions to national and global issues of the day. Learn more at bushcenter.org.

About HarrisX
HarrisX is a global research consultancy and data analytics company that conducts market research, public opinion polling, and interdisciplinary data-driven consulting in over 40 countries around the world on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, public policy institutions, global leaders, NGOs and philanthropic organizations. HarrisX was the most accurate pollster of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and is the sister company of The Harris Poll, which has conducted public polling in the United States since 1963. It is a proud member of Stagwell Global (STGW).