Most Americans like NATO and say the U.S. should defend NATO allies

David MontgomerySenior data journalist
February 23, 2024, 5:25 PM GMT+0

Most Americans say they like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, and support the U.S. honoring its commitments to militarily defend NATO allies. There is majority support across the political spectrum, though people who identify as MAGA Republicans are more likely to hold negative beliefs about NATO.

Overall, 53% of Americans have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of NATO, while 22% have an unfavorable opinion. These numbers are essentially unchanged from July 2023.

Among Republicans, 47% have a favorable opinion of NATO while 34% are unfavorable. Republicans who describe themselves as MAGA Republicans — who make up 44% of all Republicans — are more likely to be unfavorable toward NATO: 38% view it favorably and 45% unfavorably. Republicans who don't identify as a MAGA Republican have more positive views of NATO (54% favorable, 25% unfavorable). MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, former President Donald Trump's political movement.

A week after Trump warned that the U.S. would not support NATO allies who didn’t meet defense-spending guidelines, Americans say by a margin of 60% to 13% that the U.S. should keep its commitment to other NATO nations.

Democrats are somewhat more likely than Republicans to support defending NATO allies, but majorities of both parties support this: 72% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans. 47% of MAGA Republicans agree, compared to 62% of other Republicans. Despite lower support, more MAGA Republicans still say the U.S. should keep its commitment to defend NATO allies than say it should not.

Overall, 54% of Americans strongly or somewhat disapprove of Trump's saying he “would encourage” the Russians to do “whatever the hell they want” to those countries not meeting the spending guidelines, while 23% approve. 69% of Democrats disapprove while Republicans are closely divided, with non-MAGA Republicans more likely to disapprove than approve and MAGA Republican more likely than not to approve.

Carl Bialik contributed to this article

Related: American and Western European attitudes to NATO in February 2024

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on February 18 - 20, 2024 among 1,562 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Jasper Juinen)

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