Analysis & Opinions - The New York Times

Foreigners’ Views of America Dim Under Trump, Poll Shows

    Author:
  • Gardiner Harris
| Oct. 01, 2018

WASHINGTON — The image of the United States around the world has fallen substantially since Donald J. Trump became president, according to a poll of foreigners in 25 countries that was released on Monday.

The drop has been particularly steep in parts of Europe and Latin America, according to the survey of 26,112 respondents by the Pew Research Center, an independent survey and research group, that was conducted between May 20 and Aug. 12.

In only three countries — Russia, Kenya and Israel — have attitudes toward the United States improved since 2016, according to the poll.

The results largely mirrored the plunge in opinions toward the United States that was revealed in a similar Pew survey last year, the first of Mr. Trump’s presidency. However, America’s image has risen in Japan and Tunisia by 10 percentage points since 2017, and fallen by 15 percentage points in Russia, the poll shows.

Many of the foreign respondents — a median of 50 percent of the people surveyed — indicated they continued to have a favorable view of the United States. But only a median of 27 percent of those surveyed said they had confidence in Mr. Trump, compared with a median of 70 percent who reported lacking confidence in him.

Mr. Trump’s ratings were worse than those of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who had a 30 percent confidence rating, or President Xi Jinping of China, who had a 34 percent confidence rating.

“It is difficult for any administration to succeed in its foreign policy if we lose the battle of public opinion around the world,” said R. Nicholas Burns, the third-highest-ranking diplomat during the administration of George W. Bush.

Messages sent to representatives at the White House and the State Department seeking comment were not immediately responded to on Monday.

Many of the results are unsurprising. Mr. Trump has adopted explicitly nationalistic trade and foreign policies, and he has often complained that the rest of the world has been taking advantage of the United States or has relied for too long on an American security umbrella with little or no compensation.

His complaints about illegal and even legal immigration from Mexico have led him to be far less popular there than former President Barack Obama. Thirty-two percent of Mexicans polled had a positive view of the United States in the 2018 survey, compared with 66 percent in 2016, when Mr. Obama was president.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best — they’re not sending you,” Mr. Trump said in 2015 when he began his campaign for the presidency at Trump Tower. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Similar plunges occurred in the Netherlands, Germany and Canada.

When Mr. Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, the action inevitably ruffled their feathers. He called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada “very dishonest and weak” in a Twitter post that outraged Canadians across the political spectrum.

But Mr. Trump’s harsh words may be part of a negotiating strategy to get what he deems to be better trade deals. On Monday, Mr. Trump announced a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement that included some concessions by both Mexico and Canada.

“By the way, without tariffs we wouldn’t be talking about a deal, just for those babies out there that keep talking about tariffs,” Mr. Trump said in a Rose Garden ceremony.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Harris, Gardiner.“Foreigners’ Views of America Dim Under Trump, Poll Shows.” The New York Times, October 1, 2018.

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