Americans are not paying attention to Brexit

December 22, 2020, 8:00 PM UTC

As the United Kingdom and the European Union negotiate over Britain’s exit from the Union and its single market, the deadline of December 31 looms for the end of the final transitional phase and Britain’s departure. If there is no agreement, the UK and the EU can start levying trade tariffs in just over two weeks. It could be critical for both the UK and the member states of the European Union. 

But it doesn’t matter much to Americans, who are not paying much attention. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, just 15% of Americans say they have heard “a lot” about the impending exit in the news recently.  

Fewer than a quarter of Americans who regularly watch MCNBC (23%), CNN (16%), or Fox News (21%) say they have heard “a lot” about Brexit in the news recently. Fox News viewers are especially likely (45%) to say they have heard nothing at all about the UK leaving the European Union. 

More Republicans (41%) than Democrats (29%) also say they have heard nothing at all about Brexit, with that GOP percentage up 15-points from last year (26%). Democratic awareness has changed less, though among this group too it has declined. Of course, Americans have just gone through a contentious 2020 presidential election, and for many, that election continues. Many may not have had a lot of time to focus on the breakup across ‘the pond’.  

But the party differences in opinion about the breakup seen in 2019 continue today. Republicans tend to believe Brexit is good for both Britain and the United States, while Democrats tend to believe it is more bad than good. About half (49%) of Americans don’t know whether this decision is good or bad for their ally. 

Even more (59%) have no opinion on whether or not the UK leaving the European Union is a good thing or a bad thing for the United States. 

 

Whatever happens, President-Elect Joe Biden will have to deal with the ramifications of Brexit for both the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. All the countries involved are allies of the United States, countries that some actions of President Donald Trump may have alienated. Many Americans agree that Biden is likely to improve relations between the United States and its foreign allies. Democrats overwhelmingly think he will be able to do that (88%); Republicans disagree (69%).  

Related: Election cases hurt the Supreme Court’s image among Republicans 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll  

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adults interviewed online between December 13 - 15, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.2% for the overall sample.  

Image: Getty