Support among the U.S. general public for increasing Pentagon spending ranks behind health care and education, according to a new national defense survey of 2,533 adults by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute.
“When asked what the highest priority for increased funding should be, the military ranks fifth as a priority at 11%, behind healthcare (23%), border security (17%), education (15%), and infrastructure (14%),” the survey said. “However, when asked what the next highest priority for increased funding should be, the military jumps to the third position at 19%, behind only education (24%) and healthcare (21%). There is some partisan split on funding priorities, as Republicans rank the military second on their funding list, while it comes in lower for Democrats.”
The poll also seems to indicate that more Americans believe DoD spending levels are about right, versus too high or too low.
“In terms of military funding, a plurality (39%) think the U.S. government spends about the right amount on defense, whereas roughly equal percentages think it spends too little (27%) or too much (26%),” per the survey. “Among Republicans, equal percentages (42%) say the U.S. government spends too little or about the right amount on the military, with only 11% saying it spends too much. Among Democrats, 45% say it spends too much, while 37% say it spends the right amount, and only 13% say it spends too little.”
The Democratic polling firm, Beacon Research, teamed with the Republican consultancy, Shaw & Company Research, to conduct the survey from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7. The results relied on 998 telephone interviews and 1,525 online responses, the Reagan Institute said.
Debuting in 2018, this month’s national defense survey is the institute’s fourth.
Trust in the military has declined steadily since the first survey and has dropped by 25 points from 70 percent in 2018. “For the first time in our survey, a minority of Americans—only 45%—report having a great deal of trust and confidence in the military,” per the new survey. “Increasing numbers of Americans say they have little or not much confidence in the military, which is up 15 points in the last three years.”
“While the military continues to top the list of trusted institutions, the trend of declining trust is occurring more rapidly for the military than it is for other public institutions,” the survey said. “The military has declined in trust by 25 points since 2018, while law enforcement has declined by 17 points from 50% to 33%.”
Yet, when asked to identify which nation has the best military, 69 percent of respondents said the United States, and the second ranked country, China, came in at 17 percent.
“On specific capabilities, Americans are more likely to think the U.S. military is the best in the world when it comes to conventional weaponry, such as tanks, battleships, and airplanes (45%) compared with only 27% who think it is the best in the world at cyber capabilities,” the survey said. “There is particularly low belief in the relative strength of America’s military leadership and manpower. Only one-third (33%) think that the U.S. military leadership is the best in the world, whereas 42% think it is one of the best. There are slightly higher numbers for traditional manpower, such as enlisted servicemembers, with 36% believing the U.S. military is the best in the world, while 46% think it one of the best.”