In Age of Covid, International Image of US Is Badly Eroded

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)

(CN) — A Pew Research Center survey of people in 13 countries found that views of the United States and its president are among the lowest in the past 20 years.

Adults in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and South Korea were asked whether they viewed the U.S., President Donald Trump, and other world leaders favorably or unfavorably. They were also asked specifically whether they believed countries and leaders had responded well to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 12 of 13 countries surveyed, a majority of the respondents had an unfavorable opinion of the United States, and on average only 16% expressed confidence in Trump. In the 20 years that Pew has been conducting its Global Attitudes Survey, current favorable views of the United States in many countries are as low as they have been at any point since polling began.

Just 41% in the United Kingdom express a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31% see the U.S. positively, the lowest since March 2003 at the height of U.S.-France tensions over the Iraq War. Germans give the U.S. particularly low marks on the survey: 26% rate the U.S. favorably, similar to the 25% in the same March 2003 poll.

Polling took place by phone — using a list-assisted random dialer — for 13,273 respondents in 13 countries from June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020. Interviews were conducted in the primary language of each country. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, face-to-face interviews were not possible for this year’s survey.

The current survey shows a substantial dip in ratings of the U.S. since 2019. Japan saw the largest drop, with only 41% expressing a positive view in 2020, compared with 68% in 2019. The view of the United States diminished among respondents surveyed in both years by between 12 and 18 percentage points year over year.

World opinions on Trump were particularly influenced by his handling of the current pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis.

In polling about confidence in national leaders, Angela Merkel receives the highest marks with a median of 76% across the nations polled having confidence in the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron also gets largely favorable reviews while ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly split.

Ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are overwhelmingly negative, although not as negative as those for Trump. Only 16% of respondents said that they have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, compared to 23% for Putin and 19% for Xi.

None of the 13 nations polled saw more than a quarter of the respondents expressing confidence in Trump, with Japan at 25%, Australia 23%, Canada 20% and the U.K. 19%. Trump’s most negative assessment is in Belgium — the administrative seat of the European Union — where only 9% say they have confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs.

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