America's global image plummeted following the election of President Donald Trump, amid widespread opposition to his administration's policies and a widely shared lack of confidence in his leadership.
Now, as the second anniversary of Trump's election approaches, a new 25-nation Pew Research Center survey finds that Trump's international image remains poor, while ratings for the United States are much lower than during Barack Obama's presidency.
Even though America's image has declined since Trump's election, on balance the U.S. still receives positive marks – across the 25 nations polled, a median of 50% have a favorable opinion of the U.S., while 43% offer an unfavorable rating. However, a median of only 27% say they have confidence in President Trump to do the right thing in world affairs; 70% lack confidence in him.
In contrast, views about Chinese power are clear: A median of 70% say China's role on the world stage has grown over the past 10 years. Still, by a slim margin, more people name the U.S. as the world's leading economic power (a median of 39% say the U.S., 34% say China).
The survey examined attitudes toward five world leaders, and overall Donald Trump receives the most negative ratings among the five. A median of 70% across the 25 nations polled lack confidence in the American leader. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping also receive mostly negative reviews.
In contrast, opinions about German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are generally positive. Both leaders are mostly popular in the EU, although there are regional divides within Europe, with Merkel and Macron receiving favorable ratings in the Northern European nations surveyed and less stellar reviews in Eastern and Southern Europe.
European attitudes toward Trump are strikingly negative, especially when compared with the ratings his predecessor received while in office. Looking at four European nations Pew Research Center has surveyed consistently since 2003 reveals a clear pattern regarding perceptions of American presidents. George W. Bush, whose foreign policies were broadly unpopular in Europe, got low ratings during his presidency, while the opposite was true for Barack Obama, who enjoyed strong approval in these four nations during his time in office. Following the 2016 election, confidence in the president plunged, with Trump's ratings resembling what Bush received near the end of his second term (although Trump's numbers are up slightly in the United Kingdom this year).