We are entering into campaign season, and if past is any predictor of the future we can expect candidates to try and score points at home by taking cheap potshots at the United Nations.
But new polling out today suggests that candidates who engage in campaign season style UN bashing do so their own political peril. The bi-partisan polling team of Bill McInturff, Elizabeth Harrington and Geoff Garin have found that American voters rather strongly support the United Nations–and this support holds true regardless of party affiliation.
Polling data released today by the UN Foundation* shows that more than 8 out of 10 voters support an active American role in the United Nations. This includes 64% of voters who believe the United States should pay its membership dues to the UN on time and in full.
When asked if the United Nations was still needed today or if it had outlived its usefulness, 70% of all respondents agreed that the UN was still needed. The numbers dip when only Republican voters were queried, but a strong majority of Republicans still believe that the United Nations is needed by a margin of 56% to 41%. (As you might expect, Democrats break much more strongly for the contemporary relevance of the UN by a margin of 83%/12%.)
The UN Foundation has been commissioning this kind of polling for several years. For the first time, though, the pollsters asked questions about specific UN agencies: The WHO, IAEA; UNESCO; and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). With the exception of WIPO, a majority of respondents across the political spectrum said that it was very important (as opposed to just “important”) that the United States provide funds and participate in these agencies.
These questions about the UN specialized agencies are particularly relevant right now because American funding for UNESCO was suspended last fall over UNESCO’s decision to admit Palestine as a member. Should Palestine join the World Health Organization or the IAEA, the legislation from the 1990s forces the United States to pull its funding…even though, as this poll shows, Americans want their government to support these agencies.
In addition to being terrible policy that makes no sense, pulling funding from these agencies is deeply unpopular among American voters!
Here is the full polling data. I strongly encourage folks to read though the report in full. Counter-intuitive data ensues!