China, not Iran, is now America's No. 1 enemy, according to a new Gallup Poll.
The Chinese hold that distinction primarily because Americans have spread their negative views across several perceived threats — Iran (16%), North Korea (16%), Russia (9%), Iraq (7%), Afghanistan (5%) and Syria (3%) — while holding relatively constant in their mistrust of China (20%) over the past few years.
The poll, reported Thursday, also found that a slight majority (52%) sees China's growing economic power as a "critical threat" to "the vital interests" of the United States in the next decade, while 46% cite such a threat from the country's military.
More political independents named China as the country's greatest enemy than did Republicans or Democrats, but the enemy ranking cut equally across all age groups.
The open-ended survey found that for the first time since 2006 Iran no longer tops the enemies' list, with a 50% drop in the past two years. Eight years ago, 31% of respondents cited Iran as the USA's "greatest enemy," compared with 16% today.
The drop accompanies a change in Tehran's leadership and an agreement with the West over its nuclear program. Nonetheless, Americans still hold negative views of Iran overall, another Gallup Poll showed Tuesday. Only 12% of respondents voiced a favorable opinion of Iran.
Americans' bad feelings toward North Korea have jumped nearly 60% in the past two years amid Pyongyang's standoff with the West over its nuclear weapons program and human rights record.
The so-called Hermit Kingdom occupies the basement of the favorability rankings at just 10%. Canada dwells in the penthouse at 90%.