US Elections Editor

Republicans want a more aggressive foreign policy from the next president

Sen. Rand Paul is now the lone dove in a party looking for a Hawk-in-Chief.  

47% of Republicans now see Paul as a dove when it comes to foreign policy, compared to only 13% who see him ask a hawk. Four in ten are unsure how to characterize Paul’s foreign policy views. By contrast, 71% of Republicans say Donald Trump is a hawk, and none of the better-known Republican candidates is seen as more of a hawk than a dove.

Last September, after Paul announced his support for the US intervention against ISIS in Iraq, Republicans were divided over the Kentucky senator’s foreign policy views.

Since launching his presidential campaign, however, Paul has voiced harsh criticisms of “hawks” who backed previous interventions in Iraq and Libya. In May, he blamed hawks for having “created” ISIS, which many understood to be a thinly-veiled critique of George W. Bush-era – and traditional Republican – foreign policy.

In the poll the majority of Republicans (55%) express a desire to see the next president use the US military abroad more often than Barack Obama, and a majority (56%) say foreign policy issues will be “very important” to their vote for president next year.

When asked which presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat,  they believe would be best on foreign policy, the three candidates perceived as the biggest hawks – Trump and senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – take the three top spots and nearly half of all mentions. Only 4% select Rand Paul, a slightly smaller share of Republicans than pick Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton (7%).

The findings indicate Paul has failed to consolidate support even among the 19% of Republican identifiers who think the Obama administration has been too aggressive in its use of military power. Voters like these helped sustain the campaign of Rand Paul’s father, former congressman Ron Paul, in the 2012 election. Touting liberatarian and decidedly anti-interventionist views, the elder Paul won 11% of all primary votes.

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Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.


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