President Donald Trump, speaks before signing the Presidential Space Directive - 1, directing NASA to return to the moon, in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. ( Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

LOS ANGELES — President Donald Trump’s calls for a new military branch for space win loud cheers at his political rallies. But the American public at large is not sold on the idea, according to a new survey by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

The survey shows a deep partisan divide over the Space Force and other national security issues. “President Trump’s proposal to create a new U.S. Space Force lacks broad public support,” the foundation reported. “Americans are split down the middle on the idea, with Republicans favoring the idea over Democrats by 2:1.”

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute released results of its inaugural National Defense Survey on Friday to coincide with the kickoff of the 2018 Reagan National Defense Forum at the presidential library in Simi Valley, California. The survey found deep political and social polarization characterizing American civic life today is reflected in Americans’ views of national security and military.

“In recent years, politicians and policy professionals who focus on national defense have expressed a need for more information about public perception of defense issues,” said Roger Zakheim, Washington director of the Reagan Institute. “While many surveys assess public opinion of domestic policies, few delve deeply into key national security issues.

The survey was conducted between November 11 and 14 by a bipartisan team of Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research. It is based on interviews of more than 1,200 adult citizens.

Other findings on American’s views of national security issues:

Saudi Arabia – Despite years of partnership and common strategic interests between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, more than half of America views Saudi Arabia as an enemy.

China – Despite China’s growing military presence, alleged theft of American intellectual property and the ongoing trade war, nearly 40 percent of Americans view the nation as an ally.

NATO – The historic military alliance established to protect western democracies from the Soviet military threat during the Cold War has traditionally enjoyed broad public support particularly among conservatives. Today, however, NATO enjoys far more support from Democrats than Republicans.

North Korea – Notwithstanding intense diplomatic efforts to negotiate with North Korea, it is viewed as America’s greatest nation-state threat, with nearly 90 percent of Americans viewing the regime as an enemy.

Russia – By a margin of 10 to one, Democrats are more concerned than Republicans over Russian interference with U.S. elections. In a turnabout from the Cold War, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a three to one margin when it comes to viewing Russia as a threat.

Defense spending – Americans are divided by party on the question of increasing the defense budget. Republicans supporting increased defense spending vastly outnumber similar minded Democrats.

Cybersecurity – Americans are more concerned about cyber attacks on their personal computers and the grid than any other threat, including terrorist attacks at home.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...