Poll: Vladimir Putin gets higher marks from Europeans than Donald Trump

Trump in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
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The world does not trust Donald Trump.

That’s not an overstatement. Huge majorities in more than a dozen countries around the globe say they have "no confidence" in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, according to a new study released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

The list doesn’t even include Mexico.

Zachary Crockett / Vox
Zachary Crockett / Vox

It’s not surprising that Trump, who has assumed a bellicose "America first" stance on both global military affairs and trade, would be viewed skeptically by America’s allies in Europe and Asia.

But these numbers are still striking. It’s not just that 85 percent of Europeans don’t trust Trump to do the right thing in world affairs; across the 16 countries surveyed, those saying they have "a lot of confidence" in Trump rises to 5 percent in only one country: Italy. There, Trump enjoys disproportionate popularity among supporters of Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister convicted of tax fraud in 2013, according to Pew.

Trump is even less popular than Russian President Vladimir Putin in every country but Poland (the two are also tied in Spain).

Trump’s biggest base abroad comes from those who also belong to the right-wing nationalist parties in England, Poland, and Hungary, Pew found. (Thirty percent of members in the Euroskeptic UK Independence Party support Trump, compared with 12 percent in the UK as a whole.) But even among those groups, Pew says, Trump still commands "very low levels" of support.

Obama and Clinton do much better in Pew’s poll

Global opinion about Trump appears to be about him specifically, and not a reflection of a more general distrust of American leadership abroad.

We know that because President Barack Obama’s numbers look much like Trump’s in reverse:

Zachary Crockett / Vox

With the exception of Greece, the majority of people in all 16 countries surveyed say they have confidence in Obama’s leadership in world affairs, and often by big margins. (Obama is still fairly well trusted in world affairs in the US, too: Close to 60 percent of Americans say they have faith in him to do the right thing, according to Pew.)

That appears to have changed not just foreigners’ views on the president but their opinions about America more generally. Since George W. Bush’s administration, Obama has led a recovery in the world esteem of the United States.

Hillary Clinton has similar, though slightly worse, numbers around the globe than Obama.

Pew notes that Clinton is widely popular in Europe, particularly in the Scandinavian and northern European countries. (That’s with the exception of Hungary and Poland, which have no opinion of Clinton, and Greece, which expresses highly negative views about all of the American leaders.) And while Obama does better in Asia, particularly among the Chinese, Clinton is still much more popular in that part of the world than Trump.

Zachary Crockett / Vox

Why do Swedes dislike Trump so much more than the Chinese?

Why is Trump least popular in Sweden among all European countries?

The fact may come as something of a surprise for Trump, given how often he likes to point out that the Swedes were not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps it has to do with him falsely claiming to have Swedish ancestry when his grandfather actually came from Germany — an episode that helped set off a firestorm on Reddit.

Why Trump does slightly better in China and India is something more of a mystery. It seems likely to be at least partially a function of access — people in Europe and Japan may get a steadier diet of American political news than in those still-developing countries. Whatever the case, Trump is still widely mistrusted in China and India among those who have an opinion of him.

Of course, he may welcome the world’s derision as a badge of honor. Whether Americans think it’s okay for their president to be widely disliked around the world, however, is a question we’ll have to wait until November to answer.

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