Obama has lost some of his popularity abroad, Pew poll finds


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The global glow has faded for President Obama since he took office, owing largely to disappointment with his foreign policies, a new poll from the Pew Research Center has found.

The spring poll included thousands of people across Europe, the Middle East and a scattering of countries in Asia and the Americas, including China, Japan, Mexico and Brazil.


Although Obama is still much more popular than President George W. Bush was across much of the world, especially in Western Europe, his popularity has slipped in the last three years. The biggest drops were seen in China, where the president’s popularity fell from 62% to 38%, and in Mexico, where it dropped from 55% to 42%.

In many countries, disappointment with Obama appears to be tied to frustration with the United States acting on its own: Three years ago, 45% of people polled said they expected that Obama would consider their countries’ interests. Only 27% now say they believe that Obama has done so. Also, 45% said they thought Obama would seek international approval for using military force. Now only 29% say they think he has done so.

The idea that the U.S. throws its weight around without consulting other countries has persisted. In most of the countries in the survey, more than half of the people polled said the U.S. considers their interests ‘not too much’ or ‘not at all.’That feeling was strongest in Spain and Egypt, where 82% and 80%, respectively, expressed it.

Using drones to combat militants in countries such as Pakistan or Yemen was also deeply unpopular in most of the countries surveyed -- a stark contrast to the U.S., where 62% of respondents approved. In 17 out of 20 countries, more than half of respondents said disapproved of drone strikes. (The question was not asked in Pakistan or Yemen.) Drones were most fervently opposed in Greece (90%) and Egypt (92%.) Despite expressing disappointment with Obama, people in many European countries largely said they wanted to see the president Obama reelected, especially in France and Germany, the poll found.

Similarly, although opinions of the U.S. have dimmed somewhat since Obama was first elected, respondents in most countries still see the U.S. and its people positively, according to the survey. Japan, in particular, has been a fan of the United States since Americans helped tsunami recovery efforts, with 72% of Japanese respondents saying they hold good opinions of the U.S., and 80% favoring its people.

But feelings were very different in largely Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, where the poll found that strong majorities opposed Obama’s reelection. Far fewer saw the U.S. positively: Only 12% in Jordan and Pakistan said they held that view.


Besides the insight provided into global views of Obama and the U.S., the poll also delved into opinions on other world leaders and issues:

-- China is seen by many as the leading economic power in the world, with 42% of respondents giving China that label, compared with 36% naming the U.S. That’s a big change from four years ago, when 22% named China and 45% named the U.S.

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen positively in Germany and across much of Europe, with popularity ratings of 70% and 58% in France and Britain, respectively. But feelings about her are much more sour in Southern Europe, especially in Greece, where only 7% said they have confidence in her.

-- Russian President Vladimir Putin gets poor reviews across Europe, but his support is markedly stronger in Russia (69%) and in China (50%).

To explore more of the findings, check out this interactive tool on the Pew website or read the full report.



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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles