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Americans are increasingly likely to see China as a threat to the U.S., though they're sharply divided over the dangers from Iran, Russia and climate change according to a new Pew survey.

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
What Americans want

On Iran...

  • Republicans tend to think it’s more important to take a firm stand against Tehran (68%) than to avoid war (25%), while the opposite is true for Democrats (23% vs. 71%).
  • Overall, Americans are narrowly more likely to prioritize avoiding war (49%) than taking a firm stand (44%).

On China...

The share of Americans who consider China’s power and influence a major threat rose from 46% to 54% since 2017, with similar jumps seen among Democrats (now 52%) and Republicans (58%).

  • Democrats remain more dovish, with only 16% viewing China as an “adversary,” compared to 30% of Republicans.
  • Only 19% of Democrats want to “get tougher” with Beijing on trade and the economy, compared to 54% of Republicans.
  • Democrats overwhelmingly say President Trump’s tariffs have been bad for Americans (82%), while most Republicans (67%) say they’ve been good.
  • In a finding that runs counter to the political zeitgeist, both Republicans (59%) and Democrats (73%) tend to think free trade deals have benefited the U.S.

The great divides...

  • A growing proportion of Republicans (38%) believe Russia does not pose a problem for the U.S., compared to 14% of Democrats. Views of Russia have become strikingly partisan and diverged sharply since 2016.
  • Democrats rank climate change first on a list of potential threats to the country. Republicans, meanwhile, rank it last.
What to watch

Flashback: Fear of terrorism and the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) were central to the 2016 election cycle, following major attacks at home and abroad.

  • Far fewer Americans are worried about ISIS now, according to the poll. The same is true of North Korea — the top fear from two years ago — though 58% say the regime is “not serious” about denuclearization.
  • If this week's Democratic debates are a guide, tensions with Iran and competition with China will top the foreign policy agenda in 2020 — along with lingering questions over Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Of course, a lot can change in 15 months.

Go deeper: Big foreign policy changes coming if Trump loses

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.