Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has been affected in many regions of the world. As a new Pew Research Center poll of 13 countries shows, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many major allies and partners. In many countries, the audience share with a positive view of the United States is as low as it has been at any time since the center began voting on the topic nearly two decades ago.
For example, only 41% in the UK express a positive opinion of the US, the lowest on any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31% see the United States favorably, in proportion to the gloomy ratings from March 2003, at the height of US-French tensions over the Iraq War. The Germans gave the United States particularly low scores in the survey: 26% rated the United States favorably, similar to 25% in the same March 2003 poll.
Part of the downturn over the past year is related to how the United States handled the thirteen countries surveyed, with an average of just 15% saying the United States has done a good job dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most of them say that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all countries people are giving Relatively few believe that China has handled the epidemic well, although it still receives much better reviews than the US response.
Ratings from US President Donald Trump have been low in these countries throughout his presidency, and this trend continues this year. The most negative evaluation of Trump is in Belgium, with only 9% saying they trust the US president to do the right thing in global affairs. It was its highest rating in Japan. However, only a quarter of Japanese say they trust Trump.
Attitudes toward Trump have always been m
ore negative than those of his predecessor, Barack Obama, especially in Western Europe. In the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany, Trump’s assessments are similar to those that George W. Bush obtained near the end of his presidency.
The public surveyed also views Trump as more negative than other world leaders. Of the six leaders surveyed, Angela Merkel has the highest scores: an average of 76% across the countries surveyed trust the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron has also received largely positive reviews. Ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly divided. The ratings of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were overwhelmingly negative, if not negative, like Trump’s.
Views of Trump are more positive among Europeans who hold favorable views of right-wing populist parties, although trust remains relatively low among all groups. For example, supporters of the Spanish party Vox are particularly likely to view Trump positively: 45% are confident in his ability to handle international affairs, compared to only 7% among Spaniards who do not support Vox.
Assessments of America’s reaction to these countries also correlate with support for right-wing populist parties and political ideology in many countries. While the rankings are low between the two groups, those on the political right are more likely than those on the left to believe that the United States has done a good job dealing with the outbreak.
So far, the epidemic and the resulting global recession have not had a major impact on perceptions about the global economic balance of power among the countries surveyed. Majorities or pluralism in these countries have named China as the world’s leading economic power in recent years, and this is still true in 2020. The exceptions are South Korea and Japan, where people see the United States as the largest economy in the world.
These are among the key findings of a Pew Research Center survey of 13,273 respondents in 13 countries – not including the United States – from June 10 to August 3, 2020.
Like all countries surveyed this year, Canada’s positive rating for the United States fell sharply in 2017 as confidence in the US president decreased. In the more than three years since Trump first took office, views have slowly changed, but 2020 sees the lowest ranking for the United States in Canada since the Pew Research Center began polling there nearly two decades ago.
The Germans give the United States some of its worst ratings in the poll. These views contrast starkly with the very positive assessments made by the Germans during Barack Obama’s presidency, but they roughly equal the views at the end of the George W. Bush era.
Across the European countries surveyed, support for right-wing populist parties correlates with the US rankings in Germany, people who hold a positive view of the right-wing alternative for Germany.