Americans Think U.S. Favorability Is Declining Worldwide

That’s a reversal from Americans' mostly positive impressions of how the world viewed the U.S. throughout Obama’s presidency.

A majority of Americans say they think the U.S. is viewed unfavorably by the rest of the world, according to a new Gallup poll released Friday morning. Fifty-seven percent said they think the U.S. rates somewhat unfavorably or very unfavorably in the eyes of the world.

Americans’ perception of the United States’ standing in the world took a nosedive in the last year. In 2016, 54 percent said the U.S. was viewed somewhat favorably or very favorably globally, with only 45 percent saying global views were unfavorable. In 2017, the favorable numbers dropped and the unfavorable numbers rose by 12 percent ― a substantial shift.

Americans’ views of the country’s standing in the world have steadily declined from a high point of 79 percent favorable in 2002. The previous low point was in 2007, when 58 percent said they thought the world viewed the U.S. unfavorably, but under the Obama administration those numbers evened out. Since 2012, majorities had said the U.S. is viewed favorably by the world.

It’s not clear, though, what poll respondents are basing these perceptions on. There’s not much new data out about worldwide opinion of the U.S., and poll respondents aren’t likely to be familiar with the global polls that do exist. The results of the question reflect only Americans’ perceptions of what the world sees.

Still, it’s meaningful that Americans think global perceptions of the U.S. are souring. A possible cause of that decline isn’t difficult to find: When asked specifically about how President Donald Trump is perceived worldwide, two-thirds of Americans say they don’t think world leaders have much respect for Trump. That’s a complete reversal from how Americans perceived global respect for President Barack Obama in 2009 and considerably more negative than how they thought the world viewed President George W. Bush in 2001.

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