Global views of the United States and its president have shifted dramatically downward since the end of Barack Obama’s presidency and the start of Donald Trump’s.
They are now at similar levels to ratings from the George W Bush era, according to a new Pew Research Centre
report. The survey interviewed more than 40,000 people in 37 countries.
Since the centre started tracking global opinions of the US and its president in 2002, these views have risen and fallen dramatically.
Here’s a quick global tour highlighting trends in US favourability and confidence in the US president:
1. Mexico and Canada have lost confidence in the US president
In the United States’ southern and northern neighbours, confidence has fluctuated over the past three presidencies but declined most sharply this year. Just 22% of Canadians and 5% of Mexicans have at least some confidence in the US president, down from more than eight-in-ten Canadians (83%) in 2016 and half of Mexicans (49%) in 2015. While Canadians generally have indicated greater confidence in US presidents than Mexicans have, current Trump confidence levels are lower than both countries’ Bush-era lows.
These countries have generally maintained fairly steady levels of US favourability over the past 15 years, yet they both show a sharp drop in US favourability since Trump took office. Three-in-ten Mexicans have a very or somewhat favourable view of the US, down from two-thirds (66%) in 2015. About four-in-ten Canadians have favourable views of the US (43%), down from 68% in 2015.
2. In Western European countries, confidence in the US president has declined sharply
Clear majorities in the United Kingdom, France and Germany had at least some confidence in Obama, with shares reaching 93% in Germany at the start of his presidency. (German confidence declined somewhat in 2014 after allegations the US National Security Agency eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel, though it rebounded when the German investigation was later dropped.)
Current Trump confidence ratings in these countries are similar to their respective lows during the George W. Bush years. For example, only 13% of French respondents had at least some confidence in Bush in 2008, and now 14% in France say the same for Trump. Likewise, 14% of Germans had at least some confidence in Bush in 2008, while 11% are confident in Trump now.
In Europe, Poland is a bit of an outlier, since its confidence in the US president changed less dramatically across the three administrations. Polish respondents had a Bush-era high of 47% confidence and an Obama-era high of 64%, yet just 23% of Poles have confidence in Trump in 2017.
When it comes to US favourability, Poland has remained relatively positive and stable since 2002. France and Germany, on the other hand, show greater fluctuation across administrations, with higher overall US favourability during Obama’s presidency.
3. Russia and Israel have gained confidence in the US president
Since Obama’s final term, confidence has gone up among Russians and Israelis. This year, 53% of Russians have at least some confidence in the US president, up from an Obama-era low of 11% in 2015. Russian confidence in Obama rose and fell over the president’s eight years in office, which saw tensions with Russia over Ukraine and other issues.
In Israel, 56% are confident in President Trump, up from 49% confidence for Obama in 2015. Over the past 15 years, Israeli confidence in the US president was highest in 2003, when 83% said they had at least some confidence in George W Bush.
While more than half from both countries have confidence in Trump, Russia and Israel differ in overall US favourability. Israel has shown consistently favourable views of the US over the past 15 years (81% in 2017). Russia’s favourability of the US has fluctuated more, but is up to 41% with Trump in office after hitting a low of 15% two years earlier.
4. Countries in the Middle East continue to have low favourability ratings for the US
Just 15% in Jordan and 18% in Turkey have at least a somewhat favourable view of the US in 2017. While US favourability in Jordan has remained relatively constant for the past six years, favourability in Turkey is down almost 10 percentage points from 2015 (when 29% expressed favourable views). US favourability is consistently higher in Lebanon, reaching 55% in 2009, but has slowly declined to 34% in 2017.
Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan consistently have had low confidence in the US president, regardless of who that was, over the past 15 years. Today, just 15% in Lebanon, 11% in Turkey and 9% in Jordan have confidence in Trump.
5. Japan and South Korea have sharply lower confidence in the US president, but majorities remain favourable toward US overall
Only around a quarter of Japanese respondents (24%) and 17% of South Koreans say they are confident in the US president now that Trump is in office. That represents a 71-percentage-point drop in South Korea from 2015. And confidence among Japanese dropped 54 points between 2016 and 2017.
Despite this plunge in attitudes toward the US president, overall US favourability remains high in both countries.
Three-quarters of South Koreans have a favourable view of the US while 57% of people in Japan say the same.
US favourability gradually climbed among South Koreans since 2002, with a 9-point drop this year compared with 2015. In Japan, on the other hand, favourability declined during the Bush years, peaked in 2011 at 85% and fell to 57% in 2017.