WASHINGTON ― An annual poll commissioned by the Ronald Reagan Institute found strong public support for arming Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as Congress negotiates a path forward on President Joe Biden’s $106 billion supplemental spending request to arm all three security partners in the weeks ahead.
The Reagan National Defense Survey, conducted by Beacon Research and Shaw & Co., polled 2,506 U.S. adults between Oct. 27 and Nov. 5 on national security issues. The Reagan Institute released the results on Thursday ahead of its annual National Defense Forum on Saturday.
“Despite kind of a media narrative or what you might expect watching the debate on Ukraine aid in the U.S. Congress, there is not waning support for Ukraine,” said Rachel Hoff, the policy director at the Reagan Institute. “In fact, there is steady and strong consistent support for Ukraine.”
“A plurality of Republicans, a majority of Democrats, support continued U.S. military assistance to Ukraine,” she said.
The poll found that 59% of respondents support U.S. military aid for Ukraine while 30% oppose it.
Support for arming Ukraine jumps even higher – up to 67% – when respondents are asked the question couched in the Reagan doctrine promising to support allies against aggressors.
“Framing security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in this context generates higher levels of support—both overall and among partisan subgroups— than when asked outside of this context,” notes a Reagan Institute summary accompanying the poll.
For instance, the poll found 56% of respondents support and 28% oppose sending military equipment to Taiwan. As in the case with Ukraine, support for arming Taiwan jumped to 65% when the question was prefaced with a line stating “The U.S. has historically provided security assistance to help its allies and friends defend themselves if they are willing to fight aggression against their own countries.”
The poll only asked about arming Israel in the context of the Reagan doctrine, and found that 71% of respondents supported military aid for the U.S. ally while 23% opposed it.
A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted over an overlapping timeframe also found majority support for arming Ukraine and Israel. That poll found 53% of respondents favored sending weapons to Ukraine and 55% support arming Israel.
But a Reuters/IPSOS poll conducted later in November found that only 41% of respondents backed arming Ukraine with 32% opposed it. That same poll found 31% of respondents in favor of arming Israel with 43% opposed.
And an August CNN poll found that 55% of respondents opposed Congress passing another Ukraine package, though that question included both economic and military support for Kyiv.
Still, the Reagan Institute survey found that support for arming Ukraine has remained remarkably consistent with the two prior polls it conducted in June 2023 and November 2022, even when asked outside of the context of the Reagan doctrine.
Biden submitted his $106 billion supplemental spending request to Congress shortly after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. It asks for $44.4 billion to continue arming Ukraine, $14.3 billion in additional military aid for Israel and $2 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Indo-Pacific security partners, including Taiwan.
Congress is currently negotiating the package, but the debate has become complicated amid Republican demands for policy changes on the U.S. southern border, growing House GOP opposition to Ukraine assistance and a push among some Democrats to condition Israel military aid.
Aside from foreign military aid, the Reagan Institute poll found that 77% of respondents favored increased military spending while 20% opposed it. The May debt ceiling agreement caps fiscal 2024 base defense budget at $886 billion, a 3.3% increase over FY23 in line with Biden’s military spending request that nonetheless excludes his $106 billion supplemental package Congress is debating.
The Reagan Institute poll also found that 67% of respondents were concerned that congressional budget cuts could reduce military capabilities while 29% remained unconcerned. If Congress does not pass full FY24 appropriations legislation, the debt ceiling agreement stipulates that a full year continuing resolution will go into effect funding the military with a 1% cut from FY23 levels.
The poll also added a new question this year gauging public support for U.S. military action in Mexico to counter drug cartels. It found only 41% of respondents favored U.S. military intervention in Mexico while 46% oppose it.
The majority of Republican presidential candidates, including frontrunner former President Donald Trump, have proposed using the U.S. military to attack drug cartels in Mexico.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.