As he nears the end of his presidency, Barack Obama continues to enjoy a broad degree of international popularity. A new Pew Research Center survey conducted in 10 European nations, four major Asia-Pacific countries, Canada and the United States finds that half or more of those polled in 15 of 16 countries express confidence in the American leader.
Although he has not been universally praised by global publics throughout his two terms in office, previous Pew Research Center surveys have found higher international ratings for Obama than for his predecessor, George W. Bush. During the Bush era, opposition to U.S. foreign policy and rising anti-Americanism were widespread in many regions of the world, but Obama’s election in November 2008 led to a significant improvement in America’s global image. The shift was especially dramatic in Western Europe, where assessments of Bush were grim, but subsequent views of Obama have been remarkably positive.
Still, the rebound in America’s reputation did not occur everywhere, especially in a number of strategically vital Middle Eastern nations (see this 2015 report for findings on America’s image in the Middle East and other regions not polled in 2016). And even in nations where ratings for Obama and the U.S. have been strong, there have been some signs of disappointment in the American president. For example, Obama’s use of drone strikes to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has been widely unpopular.
Obama’s former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, receives mostly positive marks in this year’s survey. Still, ratings for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee are consistently lower than Obama’s. Meanwhile, views of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, are strongly negative. In nearly half the nations polled, the share of the public with confidence in Trump is in single digits.
These are among the key findings from a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in 16 nations among 20,132 respondents from April 4 to May 29, 2016. The poll also finds that America’s current efforts to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria elicit very different international reactions than the U.S.-led Iraq War did a decade ago. About half or more in all 15 nations where the question was asked say they support U.S.-led military actions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Overall, there is no strong consensus about the trajectory of American power over the past decade. When asked whether the U.S. plays a less, more or equally important and powerful role as a world leader today compared with 10 years ago, respondents in most countries are fairly divided. Japan is the only country in which a majority thinks the U.S. is less important and powerful than it was a decade ago, while India is the only nation with a majority saying the U.S. is more important and powerful. For their part, Americans are more likely than most of the other publics surveyed to believe their country’s power is waning: 46% say the U.S. is playing a less important role in the world. (For more on U.S. views about foreign policy, see “Public Uncertain, Divided Over America’s Place in the World.”)
Yet, as the U.S. economy continues to grow slowly but steadily and as China’s once roaring growth rates wane, perceptions of American economic power are on the rise. Today, majorities or pluralities in seven of 16 nations name the U.S. as the leading global economic power; only the Australians say it’s China (in the remaining countries, opinions are more divided).
In the European Union, public opinion has moved substantially on this question since it was first asked in 2008. Looking across five EU nations polled each year since 2008 – France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK – the median percentage naming the U.S. as the world’s top economic power declined rapidly after 2009, but has rebounded steadily since 2012.
American public opinion has also shifted on this question. As recently as 2014, 41% said China was the leading economy, while 40% chose the U.S. Now, just 34% think it’s China, while 54% say the U.S.
Europeans confident in Obama and Clinton, but not Trump
European attitudes toward President Barack Obama remain very positive. Across the 10 EU nations polled, a median of 77% have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs, including more than eight-in-ten in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and France.
Europeans are somewhat less enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, although her ratings are still mostly positive: A median of 59% have confidence in her. In contrast, ratings for Donald Trump are overwhelmingly negative. A median of just 9% trust the wealthy real estate developer to do the right thing in world affairs; 85% lack confidence in him.
In the four Asia-Pacific nations surveyed – Australia, China, India and Japan – Obama also receives relatively positive marks. Most Australians and Japanese give Clinton a positive rating and Trump a negative one. The major party nominees are less well-known in China and India.
Higher ratings for U.S. than for China
Pew Research Center surveys throughout the Obama era have found largely positive attitudes toward the U.S. around the world, although there are notable exceptions, especially in the Middle East (although Israeli views of the U.S. have been consistently favorable).
Among the countries in this year’s poll, ratings for the U.S. are mostly positive. Half or more in every nation have a favorable opinion of the U.S., with the exception of Greece, where only 38% hold this view. Positive marks for the U.S. are especially common in Poland, Italy and Japan, where more than two-thirds express a favorable view.
America’s overall image has not changed substantially in the past year in most of the nations surveyed. However, ratings are down significantly in India, Italy and France, down slightly in Spain, and up slightly in Germany and China. Chinese public opinion has shifted from leaning slightly negative in 2015 (44% favorable, 49% unfavorable) to leaning slightly positive this year (50% favorable, 44% unfavorable).
Perceptions of China are, on balance, negative in most of the nations surveyed. Ratings for China have slipped in France, Spain, India, Italy, the UK and Germany. Just 37% of Americans express a favorable opinion of China, essentially unchanged from last year’s 38%. Only 11% of Japanese see China positively, little changed from the 9% registered in 2015.
Fewer Europeans think U.S. respects personal rights
America’s reputation for upholding individual liberty has often been a strong component of the country’s soft power, and it remains so today in many nations. Majorities in 10 of 16 countries say the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its people.
However, over the past three years the percentage of Europeans who hold this view has declined. This has been due, at least in part, to revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance programs. (For more on global reactions to the NSA revelations, see this 2014 report.)
Looking at the five EU nations we have surveyed consistently since 2008, the share of the public saying that Washington respects personal freedoms rose between 2008 and 2013, but has fallen in the years since. In France and Germany, for example, the share of the public that says the U.S. respects personal rights is lower today than it was during the final year of the Bush presidency.
Both good and bad qualities are associated with the American people
The survey also finds that international publics see a mix of both good and bad characteristics in the American people. Survey respondents were read a list of six traits, and for each one, were asked whether this is something they associate with Americans. On the positive side, half or more in 15 of 16 nations say Americans are optimistic, and majorities in 14 countries think Americans are hardworking (although relatively few in China or Japan say this). Americans overwhelmingly think of themselves as optimistic and hardworking.
Nearly two-thirds in the U.S. (65%) also say Americans are tolerant, but international publics are less convinced. While half or more hold this view in Poland, Japan, Germany and Italy, most in China, Sweden, Australia, the UK, France and Canada believe Americans are not tolerant.
Moreover, many around the world also associate negative characteristics with the American people. Half or more in 10 countries think Americans are arrogant and many say they are greedy. Interestingly, most in the U.S. say Americans are arrogant (55%) and greedy (57%).
Fewer describe Americans as violent, although half or more express this opinion in Australia (68%), Greece (63%), the UK (57%), Spain (55%), Canada (53%) and China (52%). A sizable share in the U.S. – 42% – also says Americans are violent. Public opinion in the U.S. divides sharply along partisan lines: 50% of Democrats and 44% of independents characterize Americans as violent, compared with just 29% of Republicans.
1. America’s international image
As the Obama era comes to a close, the overall image of the United States among key publics in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region is generally favorable. In addition, U.S.-led military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria wins broad approval, and many say America is as important a world leader as it was a decade ago.
U.S. image, in part, is linked to impressions of the American people. In general, Americans are perceived as optimistic and hardworking, although those outside of the U.S. are divided as to whether Americans can be described as tolerant. When looking at negative characteristics, many people around the globe associate Americans with arrogance, greed and violence.
Favorable views of U.S. have continued throughout the Obama administration
Majorities in 13 out of 15 countries surveyed have positive views of the United States. In many of these countries, notably France, Poland, Spain, the UK and Japan, favorable views of the U.S. have endured since 2009, when President Barack Obama first took office. Today, America gets its highest ratings from Poles (74%), Italians (72%), Japanese (72%) and Swedes (69%).
In Europe, a median of 63% across the 10 nations surveyed rate the U.S. favorably. In some North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally countries in Europe, opinions of the U.S. have weakened since 2015. Positive views are down by 11 percentage points in Italy and by 6 points in Spain, although the U.S. still enjoys high levels of favorability in both countries (72% and 59%, respectively). German opinion, on the other hand, has moved in the opposite direction. A year ago, only half in Germany viewed the U.S. in a positive light, whereas a 57% majority are now of this opinion.
Greece is the only country surveyed in which a majority (58%) views the U.S. unfavorably – a position that has not changed much since 2012. Half of Chinese are positive toward the U.S., a 6-percentage-point increase since 2015, perhaps the result of bilateral meetings between the two countries’ leaders, Obama and President Xi Jinping, late last year and earlier this year.
In some countries, U.S. gets higher marks among young people, those on right
Previous Pew Research Center surveys have found widespread age gaps in views of the U.S., with younger people typically more favorably inclined toward the United States. This year, we see this pattern repeated in several countries: China, Poland, Hungary and India. The gap is most dramatic in China, where there is a 25-percentage-point difference between the majority of people ages 18-34 who have a favorable opinion of the U.S. and the minority of those ages 50 and older who agree. Sweden stands out as the one country where the age pattern is reversed: 77% of older Swedes are favorably disposed toward the U.S. compared with only 59% of younger Swedes.
In certain countries, opinions of the U.S. also differ by ideological orientation. In seven of the 12 countries where ideology was measured, people on the right of the ideological spectrum are more likely to have a favorable view of America than are people on the left. This gap is widest in France and Sweden, where roughly three-quarters of those who place themselves on the right have a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared with only about half of those on the left. Double-digit ideological gaps are also present in Greece, Australia, Spain, the UK and Canada.
Views on U.S. respect for civil liberties
Many people in America and abroad believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens. In 11 of the 16 countries polled, more than half hold this view, including strong majorities in Japan (76%), Italy (75%), Poland (73%), Hungary (63%) and China (61%).
In Europe, at least, not everyone agrees when it comes to the status of civil liberties in the U.S.: In France and Sweden, for example, roughly half in each country (both 51%) say the American government does not respect personal freedoms within its borders. Slightly fewer in Greece (46%) and Spain (43%) share this view. In India, 41% think the U.S. government respects its citizens’ freedoms, but nearly as many do not offer an opinion.
Compared with eight years ago, significantly fewer in France, Germany and Poland believe that the U.S. government respects the rights of its citizens. The decline has been especially steep in France, where the share of respondents saying the U.S. respects civil liberties has dropped 21 percentage points since 2008. Over the same period, the proportion of Germans confident that the U.S. protects personal freedoms has fallen 17 points. These declines are likely due in part to revelations in 2013 about the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Between 2013 and 2014, during which time the NSA’s tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone was disclosed, opinion in the country on U.S. respect for personal freedoms plunged 23 percentage points.
It is possible that the critical assessment of the U.S. record on civil liberties is softening in some countries. For instance, German views have actually rebounded somewhat, with 53% now saying the U.S. government respects its citizens’ personal freedoms, compared with 43% who held this opinion in 2015.
China has also seen an improvement in the U.S. government’s respect for the rights of its citizens. A majority in China (61%) thinks personal freedoms are respected in the U.S. (an increase of 16 percentage points from 2015). Younger Chinese (67%) are even more likely than older Chinese (52%) to hold this view.
In the U.S., 58% of Americans say their government respects the civil liberties of its citizens, up from 51% a year earlier but still well below pre-NSA scandal levels (69% in 2013). Women (63%) are more likely than men (53%) to think the federal government safeguards individual freedoms. There is also a large partisan gap on this issue: 72% of Democrats say their government respects civil liberties, compared with 50% of Republicans who say the same.
American leadership in the world seen as stable over past decade
Across the countries surveyed, many say the U.S. has remained as important and powerful a world leader as it was 10 years ago.
At one extreme, roughly six-in-ten Japanese (61%) say the U.S. has declined in importance over the past 10 years. By contrast, a 57% majority of Indians say the U.S. plays a more important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.
Meanwhile, in key European nations – France, Germany, the UK, Spain and Sweden – the prevailing view is that the U.S. is about as important and powerful as it was a decade ago.
Continuing support for military action against ISIS
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that large majorities in Europe see ISIS as a major threat. And in most of these countries, there is overwhelming support for U.S.-led military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The French are the most supportive of such action, with 84% saying so. Roughly the same share (81%) held this view in 2015, prior to the November 2015 Paris attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
Backing is also strong among the other members of the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria: Netherlands (77%), U.S. (76%), Australia (75%), the UK (71%) and Canada (68%). Roughly eight-in-ten (81%) in Sweden, not a coalition member, also stand behind the U.S.-led effort against ISIS.
Majorities support U.S.-led efforts against ISIS in Germany (71%), Italy (67%), Poland (65%) and Spain (62%). Greeks are split, with 48% in favor of and 45% against the military campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
In 10 of the 15 countries in which this question was asked, men are more likely than women to support anti-ISIS efforts led by the U.S. The gender gap is widest in Japan, Canada and Spain. The narrowest gender gap is in the United States.
Americans perceived as optimistic and hardworking
In addition to questions about the U.S., the survey asked respondents about their image of Americans. When asked whether Americans are optimistic and hardworking, majorities in nearly all countries answer “yes.” However, when asked if Americans are tolerant, views are mixed.
American optimism is alive and well in the eyes of those surveyed in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Majorities in every country except for China and India believe that people in the U.S. tend to look on the bright side.
Seven-in-ten or more in all 10 European nations surveyed associate optimism with Americans. Fully 80% of Spanish, Poles and Swedes say this. Overwhelming shares of Japanese, Australians and Canadians also describe Americans as hopeful in their outlook.
Americans are also widely viewed as having a strong work ethic. In 14 of 16 publics polled, majorities describe Americans as hardworking. The Spanish are particularly impressed, with 86% associating Americans with hard work. This represents a 12-percentage-point increase from 2005, when the question was last asked in Spain. At least 57% in each of the other European countries surveyed also ascribe industriousness to Americans, although that reputation has slipped slightly in France (-8 percentage points) and Germany (-7) over the past 11 years.
In North America, both Americans (80%) and Canadians (76%) associate people in the U.S. with hard work. Across the Pacific, majorities in Australia (68%) and India (56%) agree; however, only minorities in China (39%) and Japan (26%) describe Americans as hardworking.
The image of Americans as tolerant is less firmly implanted than either a reputation for optimism or hard work. Besides the U.S. (65%), only in Poland (70%), Japan (59%), Germany (51%) and Italy (51%) do roughly half or more describe Americans as tolerant. Some publics are divided on the issue, but in China (59%), Sweden (58%) and Australia (56%) majorities do not associate Americans with tolerance.
Within some countries, views on American tolerance divide sharply along ideological lines, with those on the right of the ideological spectrum more likely to say people in the U.S. display this trait than people on the left. This is the case in Australia (18 points more likely), France (+15), Canada (+14) and Spain (+12).
Many associate arrogance, greed and violence with Americans
The survey also asked whether respondents associate three negative traits – arrogance, greed and violence – with Americans. A median of 54% think arrogance is an attribute of Americans, and nearly as many say the same about greed (median of 52%). Slightly fewer across the countries surveyed think Americans are violent (median of 48%).
Majorities or pluralities in nine countries associate haughtiness with people in the U.S. Roughly seven-in-ten Greeks, Canadians and Australians associate a sense of superiority with people in the U.S. and six-in-ten or more in the UK (64%), Spain (62%) and China (60%) agree.
A 57% majority of Americans admit that the stereotype of the greedy American fits. Roughly the same portion of Spaniards (59%), Dutch (59%), Canadians (58%), Australians (58%), British (56%) and Swedes (55%) agree that Americans are greedy. In Greece, an even larger share (68%) associates Americans with avarice. Elsewhere, the survey finds roughly half or fewer agreeing that Americans are greedy. This view is least common in Italy, with just 21% ascribing avarice to people in the U.S. Meanwhile, the share of Poles (-13 percentage points), Brits (-9), and Chinese (-8) ascribing greed to people in the U.S. has dropped considerably since the last time this question was asked in 2005.
Across the countries polled, substantial percentages describe Americans as violent. In four nations this constitutes a majority view: Australia (68%), Greece (63%), the UK (57%) and Spain (55%). The last time this trait was tested was in 2005, against the backdrop of the U.S.-led mission in Iraq. The share of people in France describing Americans as violent was 15 percentage points higher (63% vs. 48%). Smaller but still significant gaps are evident in Canada (64% in 2005 vs. 53% today) and China (61% vs. 52%).
U.S. Republicans, Democrats disagree on many American traits
In the United States, Democrats sometimes have a less favorable view of Americans compared with Republicans. Democrats are less likely to describe Americans as tolerant and more likely to associate Americans with greed and arrogance. The largest perceptual divide, however, is over violence. By a margin of 21 percentage points, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to describe Americans as violent.
Although both Republicans and Democrats associate Americans with hard work, this accolade is more widespread among Democrats (85%) than Republicans (75%). The one positive characteristic Republicans and Democrats agree on is optimism. Roughly three-quarters of both Republicans and Democrats say people in their country are hopeful.
2. Obama’s international image remains strong in Europe and Asia
U.S. President Barack Obama’s ratings in key European and Asian countries remain robust. Overall, around half or more in 15 of 16 countries surveyed, including the United States, have confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs. This includes more than 80% in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Australia. Trust in Obama has stayed strong throughout his two terms as U.S. president.
Along with Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives relatively high marks from publics in Europe. By contrast, relatively few in either Europe or Asia express confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing when it comes to foreign policy.
Between the two presumptive U.S. presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton fares better than Donald Trump in the eyes of overseas publics. Confidence in Clinton to handle world affairs is generally high. By comparison, few trust Trump to do the right thing when it comes to foreign policy.
In Europe and Asia, Obama seen as capable leader
In Europe, majorities in nine of 10 countries surveyed express confidence in Obama’s ability to handle international issues, including fully 93% in Sweden and 91% in the Netherlands. Only the Greeks have a negative opinion of the U.S. leader (58% little or no confidence).
While nearly eight-in-ten British citizens (79%) express confidence in Obama, the U.S. president likely did not help his standing by visiting the UK and urging the British to remain in the EU. That visit occurred during the fielding of our survey, and we found that whereas 83% of British had confidence in Obama prior to his appearance in Britain, after his public remarks just 69% shared this view – a drop of 14 percentage points.
Obama also enjoys high ratings from Canadians (83%) and Australians (84%). Elsewhere in Asia, the U.S. president is viewed positively by majorities in Japan (78%) and India (58%). Even in China, 52% have confidence in his abilities to handle international affairs.
Since Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Europeans have generally held him in high regard. And while confidence in Obama has slipped in some instances, his ratings have remained relatively high in key European countries. This contrasts with his predecessor, George W. Bush, who suffered negative ratings in many European countries from the start of the Iraq War in 2003 to the end of his term in 2008.
While confidence in Obama has been consistently strong across major European allies, Chinese assessments have been more volatile. Although today most Chinese express trust in Obama, only a few years ago this was not the case. Greeted by majority approval when he first took office in 2009, Chinese confidence slipped to just 31% in 2013 – with 46% expressing little or no confidence in the U.S. leader. Since 2013, Chinese attitudes toward Obama have again turned more positive than negative.
There are no consistent demographic or ideological differences in attitudes toward Obama’s role on the world stage.
However, American views divide sharply along partisan lines: 92% of Democrats have confidence in Obama’s ability to handle international affairs compared with only 21% of Republicans. Independents, on balance, have confidence in Obama (54%).
Mixed views of Merkel in Europe
Europeans hold wide-ranging opinions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. On one end of the spectrum, vast majorities in Sweden (84% confident), the Netherlands (83%), Germany (73%) and France (71%) trust her to deal with world affairs. And a 59% majority in the UK also agrees.
On the other hand, opinions of Merkel are decidedly negative in southern and eastern Europe, with majorities having little or no confidence in her international abilities in Greece (89% no confidence), Hungary (63%), Italy (59%), Spain (57%) and Poland (55%).
In every European country surveyed, there is more confidence in U.S. President Obama than in Merkel to handle world affairs, including in her home country of Germany.
Opinions of Merkel have declined since 2014 in several countries surveyed in both 2014 and 2016. This drop is most notable in Poland, where confidence has fallen 17 percentage points over the past two years – from 50% to 33%. Sentiment in Britain has also dropped, from 69% in 2014 to 59% today.
Putin seen negatively in many countries
People surveyed in Europe and Asia generally have a negative opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This includes more than eight-in-ten in Spain (88%), Sweden (87%), Poland (86%) and the Netherlands (84%), which have little or no confidence in the Russian leader’s handling of international affairs. Likewise, Putin is mistrusted by most in Australia (70% no confidence), Japan and Canada (both 65%).
Only in Greece and China (both 53%) do more than half have a positive impression of Putin’s role on the world stage.
As with Merkel, confidence in Putin is lower than that for Obama in almost every country surveyed. The rare exceptions are Greece, where Putin enjoys more confidence than Obama, and China, where assessments of Putin and Obama are roughly the same.
In the past year, ratings for Putin did rise marginally in five countries for which trend data are available. This includes a 13-point increase in Italy and an 8-point increase in Germany. Nonetheless, levels of trust in Putin still trail those of President Obama and Chancellor Merkel in both Italy and Germany.
Despite low overall ratings, Putin has stronger appeal among men. In 13 countries polled, men are more likely than women to have confidence in the Russian president. For example, in the Netherlands, 21% of men have a lot or some confidence in Putin, compared with only 8% of Dutch women. Gender differences do not significantly influence views of either Obama or Merkel.
Divergent views of Chinese President Xi
Public attitudes toward Chinese President Xi Jinping vary greatly in Asian countries where we posed the question. In Japan, opinion is decidedly negative: 79% have little or no confidence in Xi, compared with just 12% who trust him. Meanwhile, attitudes are split in Australia, where the share supporting Xi (39%) roughly equals the proportion that does not trust him (37%). Most people in India (64%) do not have an opinion of Xi, despite overtures from China over the past few years to bring the countries closer together. Xi gets much lower confidence ratings than the U.S. president in all three Asian countries surveyed.
Clinton finds support in Europe
Having served as secretary of state from 2009 to early 2013, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton receives positive support in most of the countries surveyed in Europe and Asia. This includes 83% in Sweden who have confidence in her ability to deal with world affairs and 79% who say this in Germany. Overall, half or more in seven of the 10 EU countries surveyed have confidence in Clinton, although many in Hungary and Poland express no opinion. Clinton receives her worst marks from Greece, where 78% have little or no confidence in her ability to handle world affairs.
Clinton also gets positive marks from Canadians (60% confidence) and Australians (70%), as well as from the Japanese (70%). Views of her among the Chinese are mixed, with 37% saying they have confidence in her, 35% saying they do not have confidence and 28% with no opinion. And in India, a majority (56%) has no opinion of the former secretary of state.
Since 2008, when Clinton was also running for the Democratic nomination against then-Sen. Obama, views of her have improved in many of the countries where trends are available. This includes double-digit increases in Japan (up 23 percentage points), the UK (+17), Spain (+17), Germany (+13), China (+13) and France (+12).
Additionally, older people in many of the countries surveyed have a more positive opinion of her than do youths. For example, 83% of Dutch ages 50 and older have confidence in her ability to handle world affairs, compared with 67% of Dutch ages 18-34.
This age gap also appears in Germany (+21 oldest to youngest), France (+19), Sweden (+16), Australia (+15) and Canada (+10). However, in China, the age gap is reversed, though this might be on account of 40% of Chinese ages 50 and older who have no opinion of the former secretary of state.
Trump inspires little to no confidence in Europe and Asia
Less than a quarter of people across all 15 countries surveyed express confidence in Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president. In fact, overwhelming majorities in most of the countries surveyed have little or no confidence in his ability to handle international affairs. This includes 92% of Swedes, 89% of Germans, 88% of Dutch and 85% of both the French and British. This distaste is especially strong in Sweden, where 82% have no confidence at all in him.
Among people in Poland and Hungary, views of Trump also tend to be negative, although many people do not offer an opinion in these countries.
Most Australians (87%), Canadians (80%) and Japanese (82%) also lack confidence in Trump. In China, there is a split between those who have no confidence in Trump (40%) and those who do not offer an opinion (39%). And in India, 67% do not offer an opinion.
In Europe, positive opinions about Trump vary by political party support in many nations. For example, in Italy, supporters of Forza Italia, a center-right party founded by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (who, like Trump, is independently wealthy), show more confidence in Trump (31% confidence) than do followers of the country’s Democratic Party (15%). Trump also receives greater support among those Italians who have a favorable view of the anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic Lega Nord party.
And in the UK, followers of the Euroskeptic, anti-immigrant party UKIP are also much more likely to voice confidence in Trump (30%) than those who follow the Conservative (13%) or Labour (8%) parties. However, it should be noted that while confidence for Trump is higher among these groups, it still represents very low levels of confidence in the presumptive GOP candidate.
Higher levels of confidence in Trump among Euroskeptic and anti-immigrant parties extend to other countries as well. In Germany, for example, people who have a favorable view of Alternative for Germany (AfD), a right-wing and increasingly anti-immigrant party, are more likely to have confidence in Trump (19%), compared with those Germans with an unfavorable view of AfD (3%). And in Hungary, people who have a favorable view of Jobbik, a far-right nationalist party, are more likely to have confidence in Trump (28%) compared with those who have an unfavorable opinion of Jobbik (17%).
Additionally, positive views of Trump are tied to confidence in another international leader tested: Russian President Vladimir Putin. In all the countries surveyed with a large enough sample size to permit analysis, people who have confidence in Putin are more likely to express confidence in Trump. For instance, among those in Italy who have confidence in Putin to handle world affairs, 44% express confidence in Donald Trump. Meanwhile, among Italians who express little or no confidence in Putin, only 12% have confidence in Trump.
Sanders and Cruz not well-known
Because the survey was fielded halfway through the U.S. presidential campaign (April to May) when the race on both sides was far from over, it included confidence ratings of two other candidates: Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Ted Cruz. While many people expressed no opinion of either one, there were some exceptions.
In Canada, 57% had confidence in Sanders’ ability to handle international affairs – as did 51% in Sweden, 46% in Australia and 45% in the Netherlands. On the other hand, 56% in Spain, 46% in France and 45% in Greece had little or no confidence in Sanders’ foreign policy acumen.
Cruz, who is also not well known in the countries surveyed, receives less favorable ratings than Sanders. In no nation polled did more than a third of the public have confidence in Cruz to do the right thing when it comes to world affairs. Cruz received especially poor marks for foreign policy from the Spanish (57% little or no confidence) and the Swedes (55%).
Views of the U.S. campaign mixed in Asia and Canada
In Australia and Canada, overwhelming majorities had a negative impression of the U.S. presidential campaign as it stood in late spring. This includes 75% of Australians and 69% of Canadians who say the U.S. campaign was perceived negatively. In Japan, results are mixed, with 44% having a positive opinion of the campaign and 39% holding a negative impression. However, pluralities in China (45%) and India (42%) have a positive impression of the U.S. election.
3. China and the global balance of power
In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, many people began to question the reputation of the United States as the world’s leading economic power. As China’s economy continued to expand and the U.S. economy sputtered, overseas publics – especially in Europe – increasingly named China as the world’s top economic power.
However, more recently, as the U.S. economy has slowly grown and added jobs, and as China’s once astronomical growth rates have slowed, the percentage of Europeans naming the U.S. as the world’s top economy has increased, while the share naming China has declined.
Overall, attitudes toward China today tend to be either mixed or negative. Just 37% of Americans, for example, express a positive view of China. Americans are more worried about economic competition with China, but a growing number cite Beijing’s growing military power as their primary concern. For their part, most Chinese think the U.S. is trying to keep their nation from becoming an equal power.
In most countries U.S. is seen as top economy
Overall, people in the 16 nations polled tend to identify the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power, rather than China. However, Australia stands out as the one nation polled where at least half (52%) say China is the top economy in the world, compared with 32% who say it is the U.S.
In Europe, perceptions of American economic power have rebounded since 2012. For example, in 2012, just 13% of Germans said the U.S. was the top economy, while 62% named China; today, 34% say the U.S. and 30% say China. A similar trend is found in Japan.
Americans’ confidence in U.S. economic power has also bounced back. Just in the past year, the percentage of Americans saying their country is the world’s economic leader has increased from 46% to 54%. Only 34% currently believe China is the top economy.
Largely negative ratings for China
In only two nations – Greece and Australia – do half or more of those surveyed express a favorable opinion of China. Favorable views are least common in Japan, where just 11% see their East Asian neighbor and frequent rival in a positive light.
Only 37% of Americans give China a favorable rating, while 55% express a negative view. Majorities also see China negatively in Sweden, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Favorable ratings for China have declined since last year in six of the 11 nations where trends are available, including France (down 17 percentage points), Spain (-13 points), India (-10 points), Italy (-8 points), the UK (-8 points) and Germany (-6 points).
Pew Research Center surveys in recent years have found an age gap in international attitudes toward China, and that remains true in this survey. In the U.S., Canada, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK, younger people are more likely to have a favorable opinion of China.
For instance, 42% of Spanish respondents ages 18 to 34 give China positive marks, compared with 32% of people ages 35 to 49 and just 17% of those 50 and older. Similarly, 47% of Americans ages 18 to 34 express a positive view, while just 36% of 35- to 49-year-olds and 30% of those 50 and older say the same.
American attitudes toward China also differ along partisan lines. About four-in-ten independents (40%) and Democrats (39%) say they have a favorable opinion of China, compared with only 27% of Republicans.
Few say Chinese government respects personal freedoms
Pew Research Center’s global surveys have consistently found that the Chinese government receives mainly poor marks on the issue of individual liberty, and that remains the case today. Large majorities in nearly all of the countries surveyed say the Chinese government does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, including nine-in-ten or more in Sweden, Germany and France. Indians, meanwhile, are divided: 33% say Beijing does not respect personal freedoms, 27% say it does and 40% offer no opinion.
Americans increasingly worry about China’s military strength
When asked which concerns them more about China, its economic or military strength, Americans continue to emphasize economic might by a hefty 50% to 37% margin. However, worries about Chinese military prowess have risen by 9 percentage points since 2012.
In the U.S. today, Democrats are almost evenly split between concerns about China’s economy (46%) and its military (43%), while independents (54% economy, 33% military) and Republicans (52% economy, 34% military) worry more about China’s economic clout.
As for the Chinese public, anxieties about the U.S. focus more on America’s military might. Four-in-ten Chinese say this is their top concern, while just 21% point to America’s economic strength. A third of Chinese volunteer either both America’s military and economy (19%), or neither (14%).
Many Chinese are suspicious of American intentions regarding their country. About half (52%) believe the U.S. is trying to prevent China from becoming as powerful as America, compared with just 29% who say the U.S. accepts that China will eventually be an equal power.
This report is compliments of the PEW Research Center
For Acknowledgements and methodology see: http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/29/acknowledgments-4 and http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/29/methodology-26/