America Split Over Brexit Vote

NEW YORK, N.Y. – 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, causing 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.

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.

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%).

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 (NET)

Negative Impact (SUB-NET)

Positive Impact (SUB-NET)

No Impact

Not At All Sure

Great Britain






European Union






United States













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 US 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+. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #49, July 1, 2016

By Kathy Steinberg, Director, The Harris Poll