2012 Chicago Council Survey on American Public Opinion and Foreign Policy (ICPSR 36230)

Published: Dec 7, 2015

Principal Investigator(s):
Dina Smeltz, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Marshall Bouton, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Craig Kafura, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Benjamin Page, Northwestern University; Steven Kull, University of Maryland. Program on International Policy Attitudes; Gregory Holyk, Langer Research Associates



Version V1

The Chicago Surveys are part of a long-running series of public opinion surveys conducted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs every two years. This study is the 2012 Chicago Council Survey, designed to investigate the opinions and attitudes of the general public on matters related to foreign policy, and to define the parameters of public opinion within which decision-makers must operate.

The 2012 Chicago Council Survey focuses on respondents' opinions of the United States' leadership role in the world and the challenges the country faces domestically and internationally.

The survey covers the following international topics: relations with other countries, role in foreign affairs, possible threats to vital interests in the next ten years, foreign policy goals, benefits or drawbacks of globalization, situations that might justify the use of United States troops in other parts of the world, the number and location of United States military bases overseas, respondent feelings toward people of other countries, opinions on the influence of other countries in the world and how much influence those countries should have, United States participation in potential treaties, the United States' role in the United Nations and NATO, which side the United States should take in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what measures should be taken to deal with Iran's nuclear program, the military effort in Afghanistan, opinions on efforts to combat terrorism, and the rise of China as a global power.

Domestic issues include economic prospects for American children when they become adults, funding for government programs, the fairness of the current distribution of income in the United States, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and United States dependence on foreign energy sources.

Demographic and other background information include age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, left-right political self-placement, political affiliation, employment status, highest level of education, and religious preference. Also included are household size and composition, whether the respondent is head of household, household income, housing type, ownership status of living quarters, household Internet access, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) status, and region and state of residence.

Smeltz, Dina, Bouton, Marshall, Kafura, Craig, Page, Benjamin, Kull, Steven, and Holyk, Gregory. 2012 Chicago Council Survey on American Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-12-07. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36230.v1

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John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

United States-Japan Foundation

Korea Foundation

Congressional District


2012-05-25 -- 2012-06-08

Additional information about the 2012 Chicago Council Survey on American Public Opinion and Foreign Policy can be found at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Web site.

The purpose of the study was to measure American public opinion on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues.

The 2012 Chicago Council Survey was conducted May 25-June 8, 2012, among a representative national sample of 1,702 adults. The Council also commissioned a smaller oversample of 175 "Millennials," those between eighteen and twenty-nine years old, yielding a total sample of 1,877 adults and a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.8 points.

The survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research, a polling, social science, and market research firm in Palo Alto, California. The survey was fielded to a total of 3,135 panel members (2,747 for the general population sample and 388 for the eighteen to twenty-nine-year-old oversample), of which 1,984 completed the survey (1,790 general population, 194 eighteen to twenty-nine-year-old oversample), yielding a completion rate of 63 percent (65 percent general population, 50 percent eighteen to twenty-nine-year-old oversample). The survey had a total sample size of 1,877 American adults. Of the total 1,984 completed cases, 107 (88 general population, 19 eighteen to twenty-nine-year-old oversample) were excluded based on four predetermined criteria.

Respondents were excluded if they:

  • Completed the survey in ten minutes or less, of which seventy-four cases were identified.
  • Refused half or more of the items, of which fifty two cases were identified (several respondents overlapped with the item above).
  • Met two of the three following quality checks, of which fifty-two cases were identified: (1) Did not accurately answer a question embedded in the survey to make sure respondents were paying attention ("In order to make sure that your browser is working correctly, please select the number four from the list of numbers below."); (2) Refused one or more full batteries containing five or more items (there were fourteen such batteries in the questionnaire); (3) Answered exactly the same way to all of the items on at least one of the four lengthy batteries of items.

Of the total 107 excluded respondents, twenty-four failed on all three exclusion criteria, twenty-three failed two of three, and sixty failed one of the three.

Households with telephones within the United States.


survey data

web-based survey

63 percent



2015-12-07 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

The data are not weighted. However, the dataset contains weight variables WEIGHT1 and WEIGHT2 which should be used for analysis.

To reduce the effects of any nonresponse and noncoverage bias in panel estimates, a poststratification raking adjustment is applied using demographic distributions from the most recent data from the Current Population Survey (CPS).

The poststratification variables include age, race, gender, Hispanic ethnicity, and education. This weighting adjustment is applied prior to the selection of any client sample from KnowledgePanel. These weights constitute the starting weights for any client survey selected from the panel. The following benchmark distributions were utilized for this poststratification adjustment:

  • Gender (male/female)
  • Age (18-29, 30-44, 45-59, and 60+)
  • Race (white non-Hispanic, black non-Hispanic, other non-Hispanic, 2+ races non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (less than high school, high school, some college, bachelor and beyond)
  • Household income (under $10K, $10K to under $25K, $25K to under $50K, $50K to under $75K, $75K to under $100K, $100K+)
  • Home ownership status (own, rent/other)
  • Census region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan area (yes, no)
  • Internet access (yes, no)

Comparable distributions are calculated using all valid completed cases from the field data. Since study sample sizes are typically too small to accommodate a complete cross-tabulation of all the survey variables with the benchmark variables, an iterative proportional fitting is used for the poststratification weighting adjustment. This procedure adjusts the sample data back to the selected benchmark proportions. Through an iterative convergence process, the weighted sample data are optimally fitted to the marginal distributions. After this final poststratification adjustment, the distribution of the calculated weights is examined to identify and, if necessary, trim outliers at the extreme upper and lower tails of the weight distribution. The poststratified and trimmed weights are then scaled to the sum of the total sample size of all eligible respondents.

For additional information on weights, please see the methodology section included in the Summary Report document.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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