Politics & Policy

Most Americans Have a Positive View of the U.N.

Pollsters say to look beyond job rating to the U.N.’s broader favorable rating.

We commend Brett Schaefer for correctly pointing out, in his recent NRO article, that the two polls he is comparing — the February 2013 Gallup poll and the bipartisan poll that we at Public Opinion Strategies (POS) and Hart Research Associates conducted on behalf of the Better World Campaign (BWC) — asked different questions. 

  • The POS/Hart poll asks an overall straightforward question about how voters feel about the United Nations, while the Gallup poll asks more specifically about job performance. 
  • The overall opinion question measures more than just the effectiveness or job performance of an organization; it measures the entire reputation of and feeling about an organization. This measure is more inclusive. 
  • When measured in this overall way, our poll shows that the U.N. is viewed favorably among voters (60 percent favorable to 28 percent unfavorable). 
  • This favorable/unfavorable question sequence is a common scale within the polling industry, and our data about the U.N. is consistent with other recently released polling data. For example, Pew conducts an annual Global Attitudes survey. Looking at the data they released in September 2013 from their most recent poll conducted in March 2013, we see that the U.N. receives a 58 percent favorable to 31 percent unfavorable opinion among adults nationally.
  • Our polls are transparent. We have released survey data that show how the U.N.’s image has risen and dropped over time, as shown in the chart below.



The point BWC makes in its press release remains true and positive for the United Nations: The U.N.’s favorable image has improved since October 2012 and is at its highest point since April 2010.   

Our previous polling data this year shared other questions, such as the one listed below, which describe how Americans feel about the U.N.’s job performance:

Overall, how effective do you feel the United Nations is? Do you think the United Nations is . . . a very effective organization, is it pretty effective, only somewhat effective, not that effective, or not at all effective?

Although there is a range of opinion about whether the U.N. is effective as an organization, today, Americans overwhelmingly see the importance of U.S. active involvement in the U.N. (88 percent important), including significant majorities of Republicans (78 percent), independents (85 percent), and Democrats (99 percent). 

And it is clear that Americans believe the U.N. is still relevant and needed today (71 percent), which again is true among majorities of each party (percent who think the U.N. is still needed today: Republicans, 53 percent;  independents, 73 percent; Democrats, 83 percent).

— Bill McInturff and Elizabeth Harrington are partners at Public Opinion Strategies, a national political and public-affairs survey research firm representing over 75 Republican members of Congress. Geoff Garin is president of Hart Research Associates, which conducts research for many Democratic officeholders.


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