Most Americans believe North Korea can be contained

November 3, 2017

As President Donald Trump prepares for his first official trip to Asia this month, Americans are more likely than they were in September to think that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear aspirations can be contained without resorting to military action, according to results of a poll by CBS News.

Today, just 25% of American respondents think military action is needed to address the threat of nuclear bombardment by North Korea—an eight-point drop from the high of 33% two months ago.

According to the network news organization, the drop is primarily among independents and Republicans.  Now most Republicans think North Korea can be contained; in September, half of Republicans said military action was needed.

However, there is far less consensus about how President Trump is currently handling North Korea:  80% of Republicans approve, while 90% of Democrats and most independents disapprove.

By a measure of two-to-one, Americans think other countries in Asia, such as China and South Korea, should be the ones to take the lead in dealing with North Korea. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all agree on this.

Overall, optimism that Americans of different political views can still come together and work out their differences has faded, CBS said.  Back in June – after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress – more than half (55%) were optimistic. Now, 47% feel hopeful.

Pessimism has risen across party lines, but particularly among independents.

Americans are more likely to want their nation to be liked around the world for its policies (49%) than to be respected for its military power (39%).

The poll was conducted by telephone from October 27 through October 30, among a random sample of 1,109 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS.

Research contact: robinsonc@cbsnews.com