We surveyed 1,014 English-speaking Americans to determine whether travel to foreign countries was related to approval of Donald Trump’s presidency. We asked, 1) “How many foreign (non-US) countries have you visited in the last 5 years?”, and 2) “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?” The results were strong, and unexpected for several reasons.
Summary of Findings
Approval of President Trump decreased among Americans who have traveled to more foreign countries.
This holds true across all age groups.
- Only 21% of Americans who do the most traveling (4+ countries) approve of the Trump presidency. 51.2% of the most-traveled group strongly disapprove, compared with 33.1% of those who haven’t left the country recently. (n = 127, 559)
- Those who haven’t left the country in the last 5 years were most likely to approve of Donald Trump’s presidency at 31.3%. (n = 559)
- Readers surveyed while reading online news were much less likely to approve of Donald Trump than the average population: 28.7% approving vs. the 39.2% national average. (n = 832, compared to the RealClearPolitics average) Younger people are more likely to read news online, but this finding holds equally true even after adjusting for age.
Results showed 28.2% approving, 54.3% disapproving, and 17.5% neither approving nor disapproving. (n = 1014) The surprisingly low approval rate is likely a result of more-connected online audiences and not strongly related to age, gender, or location.
Respondents were given five options regarding approval: “strongly approve”, “approve”, “disapprove”, “strongly disapprove”, and “neither approve nor disapprove”. Generally surveys randomize answer order to prevent bias, but we believed that randomizing response order in this case could be confusing, as there is a spectrum that could land in a non-intuitive order. Instead we ran two surveys with 50% of respondents in each: one starting with “strongly disapprove” and moving upward in the spectrum of approval, and the other starting with “strongly approve.” The undecided “neither approve nor disapprove” was always given last. There was no significant difference based on the order of the answers, indicating respondents were clear on the intent of the question.
Because online audiences are often younger, it is sometimes necessary to adjust for age. Our survey was conducted with Google, which accounts for audience discrepancy by by providing a weight for each respondent. By applying the weight for each user, one should theoretically get an audience that looks like the average US demographic. Not surprisingly, weighted results showed a slight bias towards younger respondents. This had little impact, however, in the overall approval rate. Raw approval was 28.2% overall, and the weighted approval rate was an even-lower 26.1%. This was not overly surprising because weighting emphasized older respondents and females while deemphasizing the US south. Rather than attempting to weigh results for an audience that would still differ from the average US demographic (based on other quality surveys by polling organizations) we accept that our surveyed audience is different and present the results as received.
Note that there was an option for 8 or more countries visited, but the sample size was insufficient to draw results, with only a few responses in the 18-24 and 65+ groups.
Those who read online news and those who travel most disapprove of Trump much more than the average US population. We must also include an obligatory note on causation vs. correlation that applies to almost all surveys. These results should not be taken as proof that traveling and reading news cause people to disapprove of Trump. This conclusion may be true, false, or partly true. It’s likely, for example, that there’s a correlation between disapproval and income or socioeconomics. Those who have the most money are most likely to travel, and the demographic that reads online news may be different from the US population even after adjusting for age. In short, we haven’t proven that traveling will make someone less likely to approve of the current administration, but we have shown that travelers are less likely to approve of Donald Trump’s job so far.
All results, graphs, etc. related to the survey may be used and modified for free in any publication with a citation; online publications must use a linked citation.