Latest Presidential Polls: Global Opinion of Obama is Favorable, Though a Bit More Disillusioned
Georgi Ivanov -
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November 4, 2012

The Pew Research Center has released a report, measuring global opinion of President Obama. The results are rather sobering for how the world thinks and feels about the election.

Global opinion data during 2008 and in 2012 are compared, with the trend that countries thought more optimistically of Obama in 2008 than in 2012.

China and Mexico experience the biggest drops in support, respectively from 62% to 38% and 55% to 42%.

Russia remains unremarkably predictable: 37% to 36%.

Europeans went from 86% to 80% and Muslim countries from 33% to 24% ... but they don’t like us much anyway. Overall, not bad for 4 years work – Obama is not the PR disaster Bush was.

The president’s international policies also suffer double-digit approval declines around the world, with China, the Muslim World, and Japan seeing the biggest drops, at 30, 19, 19 points respectively. Russia, Mexico, and Europe aren’t far behind those numbers in their evaluations.

The main sticking foreign policy issue for Obama is drone strikes. Twenty countries were surveyed for their opinion on them, including the United States, and they find approval only at home, with 62% support ... and in India, with 32% support. Britain is split down the middle, but a slight majority disapproves. Middle Eastern states, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Japan, and Greece are overwhelmingly against drone strikes. In China, as with Britain, a slim majority disapproves. That is, overall, my chief criticism of Obama’s foreign policy as well, so I’m siding with the world on this one.

In the good news department, approval of the U.S. in the world has improved since GeorgeW. Bush was in office. The most dramatic gains are in Italy, France, Germany and Japan with 21, 27, 21 and 22 point increases, respectively. Poland remains the eternal pro-America optimist, the Middle East still doesn’t like the U.S., but Russia and Mexico do see a leisurely 6 and 9 point increases in their favourable perceptions of America. Overall, not bad.

And then there is the bipolar girlfriend – Pakistan. Only 12% of people in Pakistan view the U.S. under Obama favorably, and 7% approve of the president – that is what is probably dragging down the aggregate Middle East measurement. But, they remain a firm ally, except we get the silent treatment and no sex until the election. It’s complicated. (Washington’s note to self: work on drone foot-in-mouth).

Finally, in discussing the unmet expectations for President Obama: considering multilateral actions, using the military only with international approval, being fair with Israel and Palestine, and taking action on climate change: on average, half of people thought he would tackle those and half thought he would not do so. In 2012, on average 20% feel he has addressed those challenges, and 57% (average) feel that he has not done so.

We can say the president’s perception took a hit in the last four years, but that is not exceptional for any prior incumbent’s term in office. The outcomes on the aggregate, are not bad, with public opinion of America better than it was under Bush. The sampling was selective and not terribly representative, but it does point that the world’s delusions about what Obama can and can’t do are gone. It’s time to get real, if he wants a second term.

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