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World’s Approval of U.S. Leadership Drops to New Low

1/18/2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries and areas stands at a new low of 30%, according to a new Gallup report.

Trump’s First Year: Hard Times for U.S. Soft Power

The losses in U.S. leadership approval may have implications on U.S. influence abroad. With its stable approval rating of 41%, Germany has replaced the U.S. as the top-rated global power in the world. The U.S. is now on nearly even footing with China (31%) and barely more popular than Russia (27%) — two countries that Trump sees as rivals seeking to “challenge American influence, values and wealth.”

The most recent approval rating, based on Gallup World Poll surveys conducted between March and November last year, is down 18 percentage points from the 48% approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and is four points lower than the previous low of 34% in the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration.

The recent drop in approval ratings is unrelated to the world’s being less familiar with the new U.S. administration. The global median who do not have an opinion about U.S. leadership in 2017 (23%) is similar to the 25% in the last year of the Obama presidency.

Instead, disapproval of U.S. leadership increased almost as much as approval declined. The 43% median disapproval, up 15 points from the previous year, set a new record as well, not only for the U.S. but for any other major global power that Gallup has asked about in the past decade.

Big Losses Are Among Close Allies, Few Gains

The relatively fragile image of U.S. leadership in 2017 reflects large and widespread losses in approval and relatively few gains. Out of 134 countries, U.S. leadership approval ratings declined substantially — by 10 percentage points or more — in 65 countries that include many longtime U.S. allies and partners.

Portugal, Belgium, Norway and Canada led the declines worldwide, with approval ratings of U.S. leadership dropping 40 points or more in each country. While majorities in each of these countries approved of U.S. leadership in 2016, majorities disapproved in 2017.

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