Americans see the United Kingdom and Australia as clearer allies than they do France — a perspective that is consistent with the recent United States deal with the U.K. to bolster Australian naval defenses that risked angering other European partners.
Last week, the U.S. and the U.K. brokered a secret deal with Australia to develop nuclear powered submarines, a move that dissolved Australia’s previous agreement to buy French submarines. The announcement sparked anger from French President Emmanuel Macron, who promptly recalled the country’s ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia and condemned U.S. “duplicity” in the pact.
About half of Americans (52%) in the latest Economist/YouGov poll have heard something in the news recently about the agreement to share nuclear submarine technology with Australia, or about France recalling its ambassadors.
And while many Americans see France as an ally to the U.S., even more see the U.K. and Australia as allies. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all see the U.K. as the strongest U.S. ally of the trio, followed by Australia and then France.
While Americans view each of the three nations as friends to the U.S., they have long placed the U.S. relationship with the U.K. ahead of the relationship with France. For the entirety of President Joe Biden’s tenure (and President Donald Trump’s), the U.K. has been labeled as an ally by more Americans than has France.
The submarine agreement is aimed at providing a counterweight to Chinese expansion in the Pacific. Most Americans regard China as a serious threat to the U.S., with Republicans more than twice as likely as Democrats to call that threat “immediate and serious.” Democrats are more likely to characterize a threat from China as “somewhat serious” or even “minor.”
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. Adult Citizens interviewed online between September 18 - 21, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. 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 U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.