Most American voters across the political spectrum support U.S. military intervention to defend Taiwan against China, but not to defend Ukraine against Russia, according to a new poll released Friday.
The survey by the Trafalgar Group found that while 58.1% of likely voters believe the Biden administration “should use U.S. military assets to defend Taiwan if Taiwan is invaded by China,” 84.8% believe the U.S. should have “limited involvement in the event that Russia invades Ukraine.”
These results suggest most voters see China as a bigger threat than Russia, despite the current war fears that are surging in eastern Europe, according to the Convention of States Action, a Texas-based states’ rights advocacy group that commissioned the poll.
“Voters in all parties stand squarely behind a U.S. military defense of a free and democratic Taiwan, even though that comes with great risk — and potentially a high cost to our nation — against the growing threat from China,” said Mark Meckler, the group’s president. “Conversely, while voters clearly sympathize with Ukraine and support assisting them through diplomacy and other means, there is no support for U.S. military intervention should a conflict arise with Russia.”
The Biden administration is promising harsh economic sanctions if the Kremlin moves against Ukraine, but has ruled out U.S. combat troops to counter an invasion, noting Ukraine is not a NATO member.
If Russia invades Ukraine, the poll found that 31.1% of voters believe the U.S should provide supplies and military weapons, 30.5% favor only diplomatic pressure and 23.2% believe the U.S. should provide U.S. military advisers. Only 15.3% said U.S. troops “should be provided as boots on the ground in the event that Russia invades Ukraine.”
“Our leaders often forget that the American people have great wisdom in understanding the nature of threats abroad,” Mr. Meckler said.
Meanwhile, Trafalgar’s poll found that 56.2% of likely Democratic voters, 60.8% of Republican voters and 57.4% of independents support using the U.S. military to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion by China, whose Communist leaders consider the island democracy a part of China’s sovereign territory.
The poll echoes other studies that suggest Americans have increasingly viewed China as a greater threat than Russia since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March 2020.
A summer 2020 survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that 54% of Americans saw China as the biggest challenge to the United States, more than double the 22% who said they were primarily concerned about Russia. The survey found that 41% of Americans backed military action if China were to invade Taiwan.
On Dec. 17, a YouGov poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute found that 73% of Americans from all political affiliations want the Biden administration to prioritize domestic issues, and only 27% favored going to war to defend Ukraine. Another 48% of respondents opposed going to war with Russia and 24% said they didn’t know.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s CommonWealth magazine published a survey on Jan. 12 that found 58.8% of Taiwanese respondents believed the U.S. military was likely to support Taipei in the event of a conflict with China, but 57.7% said they did not trust President Biden.
Mirroring likely voter turnout demographics, 39.3% of respondents in Friday’s Trafalgar poll identified as Democrats, 35.6% as Republicans and 25.1% as independents. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.98%. The survey of 1,081 likely general election voters was conducted Jan. 12-14.