America's global leadership image took a big hit a year ago

Elias Hubbard
January 23, 2018

Global confidence in U.S. leadership has fallen to a new low, and the country now ranks below China in worldwide approval ratings, according to a new Gallup poll. America's median leadership approval rating across 134 countries in 2017 was 30 percent, 4 points below the previous low of 34 percent in 2008 and significantly lower than the 48 percent approval in 2016, the past year of Barack Obama's presidency. By contrast, in 65 countries, US leadership approval sank 10 percentage points or more. The last time that the United States had such low ratings was during the Clinton administration whose ratings for his first year in office were 49% which is ten points higher than president Trump. Nonetheless, the approval rating for the region is at its lowest level yet, clinging to a bare majority (51 percent) that may be at risk after the president's alleged remarks about the continent last week. Disapproval of US leadership rose to a median of 43 percent, up 15 percentage points from 2016, which was also a record, according to Gallup. Residents in 134 countries or areas were asked to rate U.S., German and Russian leadership. In contrast, USA leadership approval increased 10 points or more in just four countries: Liberia (+17), Macedonia (+15), Israel (+14), and Belarus (+11). The United States was one point behind China and only three points ahead of Russia's approval rating.

"In doing so, he walked away from key institutions and alliances in 2017 that he felt didn't serve U.S. interests, including abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and withdrawing from the global climate agreement".

Germany is now seen as a global leader by many more people (41% of the sample), with China in second place on 31%.

The Gallup report said that China, which has overtaken the USA as the leading trading partner in parts of Latin America, "may be positioned to take further advantage". He walked out of talks on a new trade and investment deal with Europe and has threatened to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Poll respondents were especially disgusted with his handling of climate change and foreign relations, among other policy matters. Younger Americans aren't as pleased with the first lady as the older generation; her biggest fans according to this poll, are over the age of 50.

The new survey was conducted between March and November of 2017.

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