Just over half of voters perceive North Korea as a “major” threat to U.S. national security, and about the same number support taking military action to stop the country’s nuclear weapons program.
In addition, more approve than disapprove of how President Trump is handling North Korea, according to the latest Fox News Poll. Forty-six percent approve, up from 45 percent in April 2018 and marking a new high. Forty-one percent disapprove.
Forty-nine percent favor military action to prevent North Korea from continuing to develop its nuclear weapons program (37 percent oppose). That is down a touch from 53 percent in April 2017 — around the same time North Korea displayed new long-range missiles at a military parade and test fired a ballistic missile ahead of a U.S.-China summit.
The four-point decline comes entirely from a shift among Republicans: 73 percent favored military action in April 2017 compared to 63 percent today. They are joined by 36 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents.
Overall, 52 percent see North Korea as a “major” threat to national security.
That puts it on the higher end of perceived threats. By comparison, more voters consider foreign cyberattacks (72 percent) and ISIS (62 percent) as “major” threats, while far fewer say the same about the migrant caravan (35 percent) and instability in Venezuela (22 percent).
Despite being less likely to favor military intervention, Democrats (58 percent) are 12 points more likely than Republicans (46 percent) to consider North Korea a “major” threat.
“Unlike many domestic issues, foreign policy attitudes are highly dependent on who is president,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. “Here we see that Democrats are more attuned to the possibility of a run-in with North Korea because they don’t trust President Trump to handle the issue competently.”
A summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set for February 27-28 in Vietnam.
Trump declared during the State of the Union, “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed.”
One-third of voters (32 percent) think military conflict with North Korea is less likely than it was two years ago, while 21 percent say more likely. The largest share, 41 percent, believes the threat is about the same as it was around the time Trump took office.
Republicans (53 percent) are nearly four times as likely as Democrats are (14 percent) to think a conflict is less likely now.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) (formerly named Anderson Robbins Research) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from February 10-12, 2019. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.