Vancouver – Canadians along with people in nations considered allies of the US don’t think much of Donald Trump.
A new Pew research poll says just 39% of Canadians express a favorable opinion of the U.S. in 2018, the lowest percentage since Pew Research Center began polling in Canada in 2002.
Overall, only 25% have confidence in Trump, although he gets more positive ratings among those who feel closest to the Conservative Party (44%) than among those who identify with the New Democratic Party (17%) or the ruling Liberal Party (10%).
Canadians have more faith in Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Macron and China’s Jinping. They put Trump and Putin at 25%.
Fully 82% of Canadians say the U.S. ignores Canada’s interests when making foreign policy.
America’s global image has plummeted following the election of President Donald Trump, amid widespread opposition to his administration’s policies and a widely shared lack of confidence in his leadership.
Now, as the second anniversary of Trump’s election approaches, a new 25-nation Pew Research Center survey finds that Trump’s international image remains poor, while ratings for the United States are much lower than during Barack Obama’s presidency.
The poll also finds that international publics express significant concerns about America’s role in world affairs.
Large majorities say the U.S. doesn’t take into account the interests of countries like theirs when making foreign policy decisions.
Many believe the U.S. is doing less to help solve major global challenges than it used to.
And there are signs that American soft power is waning as well, including the fact that, while the U.S. maintains its reputation for respecting individual liberty, fewer believe this than a decade ago.
Even though America’s image has declined since Trump’s election, on balance the U.S. still receives positive marks – across the 25 nations polled, a median of 50% have a favorable opinion of the U.S., while 43% offer an unfavorable rating.
However, a median of only 27% say they have confidence in President Trump to do the right thing in world affairs; 70% lack confidence in him.
Frustrations with the U.S. in the Trump era are particularly common among some of America’s closest allies and partners.
In Germany, where just 10% have confidence in Trump, three-in-four people say the U.S. is doing less these days to address global problems, and the share of the public who believe the U.S. respects personal freedoms is down 35 percentage points since 2008.
In France, only 9% have confidence in Trump, while 81% think the U.S. doesn’t consider the interests of countries like France when making foreign policy decisions.
Critical views are also widespread among America’s closest neighbors.
Meanwhile, Trump’s lowest ratings on the survey are found in Mexico, where just 6% express confidence in his leadership.
One exception to this pattern is Israel. After a year in which the Trump administration generated international controversy by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his positive rating jumped to 69%, up from 56% in 2017.
Around the world, publics are divided about the direction of American power:
Across the 25 nations surveyed, a median of 31% say the U.S. plays a more important role in the world today than it did ten years ago; 25% say it plays a less important role; and 35% believe the U.S. is as important as it was a decade ago.
In contrast, views about Chinese power are clear: A median of 70% say China’s role on the world stage has grown over the past 10 years.
Still, by a slim margin, more people name the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power (a median of 39% say the U.S., 34% say China).
And despite the unease many feel about the U.S. at the moment, the idea of a U.S.-led world order is still attractive to most.
When asked which would be better for the world, having China or the U.S. as the top global power, people in nearly every country tend to select the U.S., and this is particularly common among some of China’s Asia-Pacific neighbors, such as Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Australia.
Although perceptions of the U.S. are on balance positive, they vary considerably among the nations surveyed.
Ten of the 25 countries in this year’s survey are European Union member states, and across these EU nations a median of just 43% offer a favorable opinion of the U.S.
Meanwhile, majorities in four of the five Asia-Pacific nations polled give the U.S. a positive rating, including 83% in the Philippines, one of the highest ratings in the survey. The U.S. also gets high marks in South Korea, where 80% have a positive view of the U.S. and confidence in President Trump has increased over the past year from 17% to 44%.
As has largely been the case since Pew Research Center’s first Global Attitudes survey in 2002, attitudes toward the U.S. in sub-Saharan Africa are largely positive, with Kenyans, Nigerians and South Africans expressing mostly favorable opinions in this year’s poll.
The three Latin American nations polled offer differing views about the U.S., with Brazilians voicing mostly favorable reviews, while Argentines and Mexicans are mostly negative. And the two Middle Eastern nations in the study – Israel and Tunisia – offer strikingly different assessments.
Germany: A sharp negative turn in the Trump era
Germany stands out as a country where America’s image is considerably more negative today than during the Barack Obama era.
Whereas Obama was extremely popular in Germany (although his ratings did decline somewhat following the NSA scandal), only around one-in-ten Germans have voiced confidence in Trump in each of the past two years, ratings similar to those registered for George W. Bush at the end of his second term.
Germany stands out on other measures as well. It is the country with the highest percentage (80%) saying relations with the U.S. have deteriorated over the past year, and it is tied with Sweden for the largest share of the public (75%) saying the U.S. is doing less to confront global problems.
Germany is also where the biggest declines have taken place in recent years regarding the belief that the U.S. respects personal freedom and that Washington listens to other countries in international affairs.
Mexico: Strong opposition to Trump
Mexico is where Trump gets his lowest ratings on the survey: Just 6% in the United States’ southern neighbor have confidence in him. Last year, more than nine-in-ten Mexicans opposed Trump’s plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. This year, 66% in Mexico say relations have gotten worse over the past 12 months.
Japan: Low ratings for Trump, but overall assessment of U.S. recovers
Japanese trust in the U.S. president has also suffered under Donald Trump, but America’s overall image has not. In 2018, just three-in-ten Japanese say they have confidence in Trump’s handling of world affairs, a slight improvement over their view in 2017, but significantly lower than their views of the U.S. president throughout the Obama administration.
Opinion of Trump is comparable to sentiment about George W. Bush during his time in office.
Fully 67% of Japanese, however, have a favorable view of the U.S., up 10 percentage points from last year. Despite the high ratings for the U.S., there are concerns in Japan about the trajectory of American power – it is the only country where a majority (55%) believes the U.S. is less powerful than 10 years ago.
Israel: Trump’s ratings improved
Confidence in President Trump has increased significantly in Israel since 2017. Trump also receives substantially higher ratings than Obama got near the end of his second term, although they are very similar to the high ratings for Obama in 2014, before tensions rose between his administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Iran nuclear deal. As has been the case in recent years, around eight-in-ten Israelis express a favorable opinion about the U.S. At 52%, Israelis are more likely than any other public surveyed to say the U.S. is doing more to address global problems than a few years ago. Israel also tops the list in terms of the share of the public (79%) saying that relations with the U.S. have improved in the past year.
A median of 34% across the countries surveyed voice confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping, while 56% lack confidence in him. His strongest backers are in the Philippines (58%), Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia (all 53%), and Russia (50%).
And his support is up 22 points in Tunisia and 12 points in Canada. Confidence in Xi is particularly low in Latin America, where many have no opinion of the Chinese leader, and in parts of Europe. Just 9% of Poles and 11% of Greeks trust Xi. Confidence in Xi in the three African nations surveyed is higher than in any European country polled.
Notably, in Australia and Poland it is young people – those ages 18 to 29 – who are more supportive of Xi than their elders – those 50 years of age and older.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has the confidence of a median of 30% in the survey, with 62% expressing no confidence in his handling of world affairs.
Around eight-in-ten Russians (81%) trust him in this arena. Roughly six-in-ten in the Philippines (61%) and half in Tunisia (53%) are supportive. In Europe, his strongest backing is in Greece (45%) and Germany (35%). His weakest support is in Poland (7%). A median of 48% in Europe say they have no confidence at all in Putin.
Far fewer than half of those surveyed in Africa, Latin America and in most of the Asia-Pacific nations trust Putin in dealing with international relations, although many Africans and Latin Americans express no opinion.
Credit: Pew Research Center