Public concern about North Korea is widespread — alongside skepticism of President Donald Trump’s ability to handle the risks.
Eighty-one percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll see North Korea as a threat to the United States, including 66 percent who see it as a “serious” threat, up 12 points from 2005. Nearly three-quarters are concerned about the possibility of a full-scale war, with half of them “very” concerned.
As part of those worries, just 36 percent express trust in Trump’s ability to handle the situation; 63 percent distrust him, with a large portion, 40 percent, trusting him “not at all.” Among those who distrust Trump to handle the situation, worry about a full-scale war soars to 83 percent.
Distrust in Trump on the issue is highly partisan, ranging from 87 percent among Democrats to 19 percent of Republicans in this survey, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. Tipping the balance, it’s 66 percent among independents. And Democrats are most apt to fear a full-scale war — 86 percent, versus 68 percent of Republicans and independents alike.
Generational differences emerge: Among adults age 40 or older, 87 percent see North Korea as a threat to the United States, and 77 percent see it as a serious threat. Comparable numbers are lower by 17 and 28 points, respectively, among younger adults, who may be less in touch with the nuclear threat of years past. Younger adults also are less apt to trust Trump to deal with the situation; just 29 percent do, versus 41 percent of those 40 or older.
There also are large gender gaps on the issue. Women are much less likely than men to trust Trump to handle the situation, 29 to 44 percent. Conversely, women are much more likely to see North Korea as a serious threat, 73 to 59 percent; to be concerned about the risk of full-scale war, 83 versus 64 percent; and to be very concerned about it, 51 versus 27 percent. (Women typically are more willing than men to express concern in surveys.)
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone July 10 to 13, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 35-23-35 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York City, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.