US midterms 2022: the stakes for Australia and the alliance

Australian, American and Japanese public opinion on the key issues
Trade agreements World politics International relations Australia-US relations International cooperation Military alliances United States of America Japan Australia

In September 2022, the United States Studies Centre conducted a public opinion survey in the United States, Australia and Japan to understand the public sentiment in each nation on a variety of issues ahead of the 2022 US mid-term elections.

The results of this survey show the three surveyed countries are overwhelmingly supportive of their ties with one another, including record high levels of American approval for US alliances, and nearly identical high levels driving support for the US alliance in Australia and Japan. The geopolitical context of that support is also evident in the polling, with shared and solidified concern about China clear across the three nations and their political parties. The preferred means of addressing such a challenge indicates a notable nuanced policy understanding in the three countries. Vast majorities of consumers in the United States, Australia and Japan were willing to personally pay for economic de-coupling from China. All three publics also show readiness for military options in Taiwan contingencies but strongly prefer diplomatic responses and economic responses for both Taiwan and the unfolding geopolitical competition in the Pacific Islands.

US mid-term elections rarely involve issues about US foreign policy, but the implications of a potentially divided American government in January 2023 are not lost on the Australian and Japanese publics. Nearly three-quarters of Australians and Japanese said the upcoming US mid-term elections are somewhat to very important for their own countries. This understanding of US domestic issues is also evident in the concern Australian and Japanese publics report for the state of America’s democracy.

Key findings:

  • US alliances are popular
  • Negative views of China have solidified across the region
  • US, Australian and Japanese publics favour robust responses to Chinese aggression but prioritise diplomatic and economic approaches
  • Americans want trade agreements with Asia and share a scepticism of economic ties with China
  • All three publics want to broaden the alliance agenda
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