Americans Concerned About Weakness, Say We’re Not Spending Enough On The Military
A Gallup poll released Friday indicates that Americans haven’t wanted to spend this much on the military since 2001.
The past 10 years of public opinion has been unfavorable toward the defense industry, but starting in 2011, the number of respondents saying the U.S. should spend more has been trending upward, and as of Friday, 34 percent of Americans believe that more needs to be spent on the military, in comparison to only 32 percent who say that the U.S. is spending too much militarily. Exactly 29 percent believe that the budget is “about right.”
An additional 44 percent stated that the U.S. military isn’t strong enough. Only 13 percent said that it’s stronger than it needs to be.
The positive shift has come from Republicans, Democrats and independents, although there are still considerable gaps. Out of Republicans, 56 percent believe that defense spending is too low, whereas for Democrats, that number drops down to 33 percent. Although there’s a 23 percent gap between the two main parties, from 2014 to 2015, Democrats jumped from 26 percent to 33 percent. Independents only increased from 15 percent to 17 percent in the past year.
Just last year, 37 percent of respondents said the U.S. spends too much, while only 28 percent stated that the U.S. spends too little on defense, marking a reversal in public opinion, possibly linked to the rise of ISIS and critiques of the administration’s response.
In the last 50 years, there have been only a few times Americans have been ready and eager to ramp up defense spending, notably in 1981 shortly after Ronald Reagan was elected, and in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, both Republicans and President Barack Obama are interested in increasing defense spending. Where the Obama administration and Congress diverge, however, is exactly where that spending should be directed. The administration tends to prioritize research and technology, while Congress is hoping that troops receive the financial support they need and are charging that the administration is shortchanging personnel. (RELATED: Obama’s Defense Budget: Nothing But Disappointment For Servicemembers)
Gallup conducted the poll via telephone interviews from Feb. 8-11 based on a nationally representative sample of 837 adults. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, and a confidence interval of 95 percent.
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