How do people perceive the United States abroad? This fundamental helps to outline U.S. foreign policy and global strategies. Global perception is calculated on a yearly basis by the Pew Research Center. Looking at two polls, one conducted in 2015 and another in 2017, we can catch a glimpse into the roles of President Trump and former President Obama on the world stage.
Both polls conducted by the Pew Research Center asked questions about attitudes towards current U.S. actions and stances, and include countries from different regions around the world. The section break down includes Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. According to the Pew Research Center, the leader of the U.S. has a strong impact on global perceptions of the U.S.
The differences between the tenures of President Trump and Senator Obama are very interesting.
Within western Europe the polls studied some U.S. allies. Mr. Obama had consistently higher favorable numbers, with countries such as Germany having a 50 percent favorable to a 45 percent unfavorable, the United Kingdom with 65 percent favorable and 24 percent unfavorable, and France 73 percent favorable to 27 percent unfavorable. President Trump’s numbers are as follows: Germany has 35 percent favorable and a 62 unfavorable, the U.K. has a 50 favorable and a 40 percent unfavorable, and France has a 46 percent favorable and a 52 percent unfavorable.
Looking at U.S. ally Israel, both Senator Obama and President Trump scored an 81 percent favorability rating and 18 percent unfavorable rating. Comparatively, in Russia it can be seen that President Trump has a more favorable outlook, however, he still does not have a majority of Russians seeing him favorably. With only 41 percent voting favorable and 52 percent unfavorable, these numbers are very different than Senator Obama’s numbers, which are 15 percent favorable and 81 percent unfavorable.
Unfortunately, the 2017 poll does not include China, but the 2015 poll reported that Senator Obama had a 44 percent favorability and a 49 percent unfavorable perception with the Chinese people. What these numbers might mean for overall relations between the countries provides areas for debate.
I personally see the causes of the disparity between poll numbers as a result of President Trump’s image at home. Global perception of the U.S. and its leader is enhanced or hurt by domestic press coverage. It has been made very clear by the media that they strongly dislike President Trump, evident through the constant negative press that he receives. According to a Harvard University study President Trump has had 80 percent negative press coverage covering all major networks and publications. The negative press hurts President Trump’s image, and in turn the U.S. global image, as international news outlets use American news outlets for their stories on the U.S. president. Even if President Trump’s global perception is low overall, the U.S., according to the 2017 Pew Research Center poll, has 49 percent favorable view of itself and a 39 percent unfavorable.
It is important to realize that the world does not dictate U.S. politics, however, U.S. politics often have a hand in dictating the world. Regardless of the world view, President Trump will continue to be the president of the U.S., and only time will tell how his image in the world will change as a result of his accomplishment or failures. Overall, global perception may be an interesting thing to look at but in the end it does not have impact on American politics or American perception of themselves.