Poll: Under Trump, global approval of US leadership hits historical low
Regionally, the image of the U.S. was weaker under President Donald Trump’s leadership in virtually every part of the world, registering record lows within multiple countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. | Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images
Other nations’ approval of U.S. leadership under President Donald Trump hit a historical low of 30 percent in 2017, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.
The measure, the lowest since Gallup began tracking it worldwide in 2007, signals an 18-point drop from a year earlier, when 48 percent approved of the national influence under former President Barack Obama. It is the single largest year-to-year drop in approval of U.S. leadership — or of any country examined — to date.
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The steep decline, researchers said, can be largely attributed to the shift in leadership in the West Wing.
“I think a lot of respondents when they’re being asked this, the first thing that’s top of mind is the leader of the country,” Gallup’s global managing partner, Jon Clifton, told POLITICO.
The falling ratings under Trump were both substantial and widespread.
Gallup found that approval dropped by 10 or more points in 65 of the 134 countries and areas surveyed. Regionally, the image of the U.S. was weaker in virtually every part of the world, registering record lows within multiple countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Disapproval of U.S. leadership, meanwhile, soared, increasing by 15 points from 2016 to 2017 and notching the highest mark — 43 percent — for any of the four major global powers surveyed over the past decade.
The opposite effect occurred when Trump’s predecessor entered the West Wing, with approval rising by 15 points between the final year of President George W. Bush’s administration and the first year of Obama’s.
The study, which surveyed roughly 1,000 adults across more than 130 countries about their views on leadership in the U.S., Germany, China and Russia, showed faith in U.S. leadership fading while that of its global colleagues remained mostly steady.
Not since 2008 has U.S. leadership lagged behind both Germany and China in approval worldwide, with the Trump era only outpacing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government in 2017 of the four nations studied. Germany, by contrast, has not seen support of its public leaders fall below 40 percent mark — nor rise above 50 percent — once over the past decade, with the stewardship of Chancellor Angela Merkel registering 41 percent approval last year.
Ratings for U.S. leadership came in just ahead of Russia’s, which saw 27 percent support in 2017 compared with 30 percent in the U.S. — the slimmest margin between the two nations in the study so far.
Global views were among the worst in nations considered key U.S. allies, researchers said, undermining boasts by Trump about his close relationships with global leaders in pivotal diplomatic partnerships.
“The biggest decline that happened across the world are with our allies,” Clifton said.
Approval of U.S. leadership was lowest in Iceland and Russia, with only 8 percent supporting it. While the rating for the latter improved 6 points from 2016, it still showed vast disapproval among a populace whose leader Trump has sought to build stronger ties with.
While gains under Trump were few and far between, U.S. leadership saw an increase in approval of 10 percentage points or more in four nations: Belarus, Israel, Macedonia and Liberia.
The spike in Israeli support, Clifton noted, came before the White House announced its plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a widely popular move in the country. The climb lends credence to Trump’s contention that he has strengthened ties to Israel.
U.S. leadership under Trump also made gains in war-torn Iraq, where views improved by 9 points amid a string of victories against the Islamic State that have vastly reduced its military grasp on the region.
“It’s probably because of our contributions to what’s happening in the defeat of ISIS right now,” Clifton said of the rise in support.
And despite major overall losses in how global residents viewed the U.S. and its leaders, Gallup findings have shown that the U.S. continues to be the most coveted destination for those who say they want to relocate permanently.
“However the world feels about U.S. leadership, it hasn’t affected how the world feels about the American dream,” Clifton said. “There are still a lot of people that want to come here despite how they feel about our leadership.”
The Gallup poll surveyed approximately 1,000 adults aged 15 and older via face-to-face and telephone interviews between March and November 2017. Participants were questioned about U.S., German and Russian leadership in 134 countries and areas. They were asked about Chinese leadership in 135. The study’s margin of sampling error ranges from 2 to 5.1 percentage points with a confidence level of 95 percent.