PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The number of Americans who regard the U.S. military as the world's strongest declined from 59 percent last year to 49 percent, a Gallup poll released Monday indicates.
Asked if the United States is the strongest in the world militarily, 49 percent of respondents said yes, and an identical number said no. The positive reading is the lowest in the 23 years Gallup has asked the question.
A separate question, asked of 1,021 random adults during the first week of February, asked if it is important that the U.S. military be the strongest in the world. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said it is important, a small decline from 68 percent in 2015. The number of those who believe the country should spend more on defense increased, while the number of those who advocate less spending, or that current spending is appropriate, decreased.
In the survey 37 percent of respondents said the United States spent too little on defense; 32 percent believed it spent too much; and 27 percent said the spending level was right.
"The 10-point drop in the percentage of Americans who believe the U.S. is the No. 1 military power in the world may reflect worries about international terrorism.... It may also reflect the discussion of the military and defense in the current presidential election campaign," the statement from Gallup said.
The survey was conducted of adults 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.