It might seem like a subjective judgment to say that Donald Trump is wrecking America’s image. But a new Pew poll of 37 countries shows that this is measurable reality: Perceptions of the United States have collapsed since President Trump took office.
Pew asked people in countries ranging from Canada to Brazil to Russia whether they had favorable views of the US, and whether they had confidence in the US president to do the right thing in world affairs — questions they had also asked of people in these countries back when Barack Obama was president. The change between the Obama results and this year’s Trump results in Pew’s worldwide average are striking:
When you break down the results by country, things are even more eye-popping. Confidence in the American president has collapsed nearly everywhere:
This negative assessment of Trump, according to Pew, has directly translated into more negative views of the United States as a country.
“In countries where confidence in the U.S. president fell most, America’s overall image has also tended to suffer more,” the report explains. “Since 2002, when Pew Research Center first asked about America’s image abroad, favorable opinion of the U.S. has frequently tracked with confidence in the country’s president.”
Take the US’s neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Trump gets the lowest ratings ever recorded in Pew’s data for any American president in those two countries — and, under his leadership, the US has the lowest marks in its history as well. It’s even worse than the end of the Bush administration, when the US was mired in Iraq and the global economy was taking a bad turn:
“For the first time in 35 years, maybe much longer, a majority of Canadians have an unfavourable view of the US,” Daniel Dale, the Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent, writes.
There are only two exceptions to this trend, where the US does better under Trump than it did under Obama: Russia and Israel. In Israel, confidence in the US president went up by 7 points under Trump; in Russia, it was a whopping 42.
Obama was widely unpopular in Israel, particularly after the Iran deal and high-profile fights over both Iran and the peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Likewise, Obama took a hard line on Russia by the end of his administration, imposing crippling sanctions after Moscow invaded Ukraine. Trump … well, you know what Trump thinks about Russia.
But aside from those two very specific cases, the overall pattern is clear: Donald Trump is tanking America’s image around the world.