Two in three US voters can't locate Taiwan – or Ukraine
Even though media coverage of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan managed to reach 71% of the American electorate, a mere one in three were able to actually locate the island on a map of Asia, according to a Morning Consult survey published Thursday.
Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2, as the media tracked her plane and reported on both her trip and Beijing’s furious response to it.
On August 6-7, during “heavy media coverage” of the trip, Morning Consult conducted a “survey experiment” among a representative sample of 2,005 registered US voters.
Only 34% of respondents were able to locate Taiwan – more or less accurately – on a blank map of Asia. Some 86% of them said they had heard “at least something” about Pelosi’s trip. Curiously, it was the same fraction of the American electorate that was able to identify Ukraine on a map in early February.
Those able to locate Taiwan were “significantly more likely” to have heard about China’s retaliation to Pelosi’s visit. More than 75% of them knew about the People’s Liberation Army launching missiles and sending jets to the Taiwan Strait, compared to 60% and 56% respectively among the overall electorate.
Comparing the August results to the survey taken in May, Morning Consult found that Pelosi’s visit barely moved the needle on Americans’ opinions when it came to Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, however.
The number of those who would support sending Taiwan more intelligence, sending more US troops to Asia, and sending them to Taiwan in particular, all rose by two percentage points – but support for sending Taipei more US weapons dropped by the same amount. Establishing diplomatic relations with Taipei actually dropped by one percentage point.
Even though the Biden administration has officially committed to keeping the ‘One China’ policy, only 18% of American voters support recognizing Taiwan as part of China – with 51% now opposed, up from 49% in May. Morning Consult did note that the survey had an “unweighted margin of error” of plus or minus two percentage points, however.
Beijing considers Taiwan sovereign Chinese territory. Since 1949, the island has been ruled by nationalists who fled the mainland with US help, having lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists.