According to a study conducted by the PEW Research Center that surveyed 40,448 people in 37 nations, the global image of the office of the U.S. president (as well as the image of the U.S. itself) has taken a nose dive since Donald Trump took office. It’s not too surprising given Trump’s polarizing nature, his unapologetic nationalism, his filter-free tweeting, his extreme policies, and his general lack of decorum.
Even so, the decline is dramatic:
As Obama’s second term was coming to a close, global confidence in the U.S. president was at 64 percent with a 23 percent no confidence rate. Only a few months later (with Trump in office), global confidence plummeted to 22 percent, and the no confidence rate ballooned to a stunning 74 percent.
The numbers have more than flipped.
Confidence in the office of the president has fallen by 42 points, while the no confidence rate has increased by 51 points.
The overall view of the U.S. has also declined (though not as sharply) from 64 percent favorable to 49 percent.
If we look at the numbers broken down by country concerning the measure of “confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing regarding U.S. affairs” the disparity seems even more staggering (especially among our allies):
Of the 37 nations surveyed, only two rate Trump higher than Obama: Israel and Russia. Although Trump’s Israel approach has essentially mirrored Obama’s, his statements have been decidedly more pro-Israel than his predecessor’s. Moreover, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama had a rather contentious relationship. And the difference is only +7, which is not a significant shift.
Russia’s 42 point difference, however, is a brazen outlier. After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, the U.S. placed economic sanctions on the Kremlin. This negatively impacted the Russian economy and increased tensions between Obama and Putin. When Russia entered into the civil war in Syria on the opposite side of the U.S., supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the relationship went from sour to rancid.
It’s worth noting that Trump’s 53 percent confidence rating is significantly higher than any number garnered by George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Although prompted numerous times, Trump has refused to explicitly denounce Russia and Putin on numerous occasions, or acknowledge their alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election, opting instead to speak in vague generalities and deflect.
But the predictable outliers are not the story here, the Krubera-like plunge of overall confidence is. 11 nations measured a 50+ point percentage confidence decrease between Obama and Trump. That is a serious slide.
In Sweden, the difference was -83, in the Netherlands and Germany, -75, in France, -70.
The results stem from a combination of disapproval of Trump's policies and a general aversion to his personality.
The world thinks Trump is an arrogant, intolerant, dangerous (but strong) leader. And they don't think he's particularly charismatic or well-qualified, or that he cares about ordinary people.
They are also not fans of many of his core objectives:
Though these numbers are certainly alarming, they really aren't surprising.
Trump ran an extreme, America-first-at-all-costs campaign. He alienated large swaths of human beings based on religion, geography, gender, and personality. He knows little of the idiosyncrasies of international relations and diplomatic engagement. He puts his foot in his mouth on a weekly basis and consistently proves his incompetence is—almost impressively—boundless. He's said hateful things about our allies on numerous occasions.
Look at how they view him in Mexico:
Five percent of Mexicans have confidence in Donald Trump. If that surprises you at all, you really haven’t been paying attention.
Some particularly nationalistic Americans many believe that these numbers have no bearing on the United States or the Trump presidency itself, but that is simply not the case. While these numbers do not immediately sink the U.S. into a hole of its own making, they feed into a narcissistic, selfish narrative that can isolate us from our allies. This will impact our economy, our intelligence gathering, and our ability to offer and receive aid.
Not being able to interact dynamically with the rest of the planet is not a good thing.
Previously published on The Overgrown.