Republicans who continue to think poorly of NATO may not just be following Trump’s cue. Indeed, previous polling suggests the opposite: Trump may be the one responding to an existing undercurrent of discontent over NATO among Republicans. YouGov has asked Americans about their feelings on NATO since before the 2016 election. In March 2016, 40 percent of Republicans had unfavorable views of NATO, compared with 38 percent who had favorable views. Among Democrats, 49 percent had favorable views, while only 15 percent had unfavorable ones. Likewise, Pew consistently found in surveys from 2009 to 2017 that more Democrats than Republicans held favorable views of NATO.
But while Republicans’ overall attitude toward NATO hasn’t changed, perhaps Trump is inspiring them to finally want to do something about it. Since 2016, YouGov has also asked American adults whether it’s time for the U.S. to withdraw from NATO or remain in the alliance. And over the past two years, there has been an uptick in the share of Republicans who support withdrawal.