Brexit May Affect the U.S. Presidential Election: Poll

European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: UN / Carmen Cuesta Roca
European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: UN / Carmen Cuesta Roca

Last Thursday’s referendum in which the United Kingdom voted by a slight majority to leave the European Union (EU) shocked pollsters, voters, politicians, and investors alike.

It also caused David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, to announce his resignation later this year and sending the pound crashing to its lowest levels in three decades.

This week’s Harris Poll, fielded just after last week’s vote, revealed that most U.S. adults (84%) have at least heard of Brexit, including more than half (56%) who say they are somewhat or very familiar with Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

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Though the exchange rate is now more favorable for American travelers shopping on Oxford Street, the Brexit vote may have even farther-reaching implications for American voters this November, with more than half of those who have at least heard of Brexit (52%) anticipating some type of impact on the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,019 U.S. adults aged 18+ surveyed online between June 27 and 29, 2016.

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Brexit – good or bad? And for whom?

Among the 84% of U.S. adults who have at least heard of Brexit, there is no clear consensus: just over 1 in 3 (36%) oppose Britain’s decision, just under 1 in 3 (31%) support it, and exactly 1 in 3 (33%) are not at all sure.

  • Younger adults (ages 18-34) are most likely to oppose the decision (51%).
  • Democrats are more likely than Republicans to oppose the decision (55% vs. 13%), while Republicans are more likely than Democrats to support it (56% vs. 12%).

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Two in three Americans who are aware of Brexit (66%) think Britain’s departure will negatively impact the EU, while just under half (47%) believe Great Britain will be negatively affected – nearly as many (43%) expect a negative impact on the United States:

Any Impact
Negative Impact
Positive Impact
Not At All
Great Britain 73% 47% 25% 5% 22%
European Union 72% 66% 6% 6% 22%
United States 58% 43% 15% 20% 22%
China 38% 29% 9% 30% 32%

U.S. presidential election may experience Brexit’s ripple effect

A majority of Americans who have heard of Brexit (52%) think Great Britain’s vote to leave the EU will somehow impact the upcoming U.S. presidential election in November – including nearly 1 in 5 (19%) who think it might encourage those who weren’t planning on voting to do so.

Almost 1 in 2 (47%) believe Brexit will influence how much weight voters place on candidates’ policies with respect to:

  • Foreign relations (32%);
  • Economic plans (31%);
  • Trade (28%); and/or,
  • Immigration (26%).

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between June 27 and 29, 2016 among 2,019 adults aged 18+, including 1,757 who have at least heard of Brexit.

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Rakesh Raman