CAPS/Harris Poll on Foreign Policy and the Supreme Court


Friday, July 27, 2018 (All day)

July 28, 2018

Foreign policy, the Russia investigation, and the Supreme Court are addressed in the July 2018 poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll.

Political Climate

The latest public policy poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll was conducted July 24-25, 2018, among 1,323 registered voters in the United States.

President Trump’s job approval this month is 45%, remaining stable in the mid 40s for over the past six months. The President’s approval on specific issues saw small shifts, most notably a decline on his dealing with foreign affairs (43%, down 4 points from June). He continues to get credit on stimulating jobs (56%), his handling of the economy (55%), and fighting terrorism (53%). Less than a majority favor him on administering the government (43%) and immigration (45%).

Voters are more optimistic about the direction of the economy (47% say it’s heading in the right direction) than they are about the country overall (39%). Democrats have a slight lead in the generic ballot (43% vs. 36% for GOP), but both parties have less than majority approval (44% for Democratic, 40% for GOP).


Voters overwhelmingly view NATO as important to US security and want the US to be a member of NATO. But voters also believe NATO needs the US more than the US needs NATO in a 60-40 split. And two-thirds want President Trump to continue to insist that NATO members pay their fair share of NATO expenses.

Americans want the U.S. to uphold its commitments and protect NATO member nations. Fifty-seven percent say the U.S. should protect member nations even if they do not contribute their appropriate dues. But voters are not opposed to saying that NATO should kick out member countries that fail to pay (61% support this).

Russia and the Helsinki Summit

Over half of voters disapproved of the way President Trump is handling relations with Russia and NATO. Although voters support diplomacy with Russia and the act of meeting Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki (56%), majorities of voters would have liked to see President Trump be more assertive and also to have addressed the 2016 election meddling issue. A majority (57%) say he should denounced Russian meddling, and 61% say he should have threatened retaliations over any future interference.

Further, the President Trump was seen as “weak” by 59% of voters and only 9% think he benefited from the meeting more than Putin did (47% say Putin benefited more; 44% say they both benefited equally). The public is split over the public backlash to Trump’s Helsinki summit: 52% support the media’s reaction and 53% support the GOP leadership’s response.

American voters are also split on whether Trump should invite Putin for a meeting in DC (51% support; 49% oppose). A plurality of supporters (34%) see Russia as an ally for international peace; the top reason to oppose the meeting: they don’t believe in Trump’s ability to conduct foreign policy (40%).

Trump-Russia Investigation

Voters are split on whether the special counsel has found evidence of collusion (38% say “found”; 39% say “not found”). There’s a similar split on whether Trump should be impeached (42%) or no action should be taken (41%). The vote for “impeach” hit a low last month (32%) but has risen back to levels seen in previous polls.


Two-thirds of voters continue to ask for an investigation into potential abuses in the FBI, and nearly half (43%) believe special counsel Robert Mueller should be fired. Given the divisiveness of the investigation, it is no surprise that six in ten voters say the investigation overall is hurting rather than helping the country.


SCOTUS and Judge Kavanaugh Nomination

The nation’s highest Court is viewed favorably by two-thirds (67%) of American voters. Most are at least somewhat familiar with the Court’s activity (only 12% don’t follow the Court at all). Voters are most familiar with the Colorado Cakeshop case (65%) and among all the cases heard by the Court in 2017-2018, all rulings are supported by a majority of voters.


When it comes to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, over half believe he is qualified for the role (55%), but voters are more split on whether or not they support his nomination (36% support; 35% oppose). Most recognize him to have a conservative view (55%).


What is important when the Senate considers confirmation? A majority say the Senate should consider his personal views on abortion (56%), presidential power (62%), voting rights (64%), and same-sex marriage (58%). For voters, having bi-partisan support is important as well (79%).


Although voters believe that Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed (81%), voters are split on whether the confirmation hearing should take place before (50%) or after (50%) the mid-term elections.



For more information on the July poll, go to the CAPS/Harris Poll website for the detailed results, and please visit The Hill ( for first look analysis of all polls.

The CAPS/Harris Poll website will be updated throughout the week with more information about the poll.


The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll online within the United States from July 24-25, 2018 among 1,323 registered voters.

The results reflect a nationally representative sample. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The poll was supervised by Harvard Professor of Government and CAPS Faculty Director Stephen Ansolabehere, Mark Penn, and Dritan Nesho.

Harvard Assistant Professor of Government Jon Rogowski contributed to this month’s CAPS-Harris Poll.

Stephen Ansolabehere has 25 years’ experience conducting survey research and experimental research in the field of political science.

Mark Penn is a former presidential pollster and has 40 years of polling experience.

Dritan Nesho is a fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and has over 11 years of polling and data analytics experience.

See also: Polls