Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Political Science

Document Type



This undergraduate senior thesis project aims to investigate the question of how Americans perceive the challenges posed by Russia and China comparatively, and which factors have the greatest influence on these perceptions. This is important for many reasons, such as a greater understanding of American public opinion on foreign affairs that may help frame approaches to U.S. foreign policy. Additionally, finding where the American public agrees and disagrees on competitors and challengers provides us with insight that can be used to explain perceptions.

First, there will be a literature review concerning the importance of understanding public opinion, explanations and theories as to what may be informing American opinions on Russia and China, and a discussion on partisanship and how it serves a large role in differences of opinion. Second, the methodology of the original survey that was sent out for this thesis will be presented, initial data collection will be explained, and the survey questions will be presented. Third, implications and explanations of the data will be discussed, positioning the public opinions of Americans into an analytical lens. Some key findings include the usefulness of partisanship in predicting American opinions on foreign affairs, but also the bipartisan opinion on where concerns stem from regarding Russia and China. The final section will be a conclusion which will wrap up the analysis and provide recommendations for future research.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Timothy Rich, Ph.D.


International Relations | Political Science