Obama Gets High Marks Abroad, Survey Finds
BERLIN — Struggling at home, President Obama has maintained much of his high popularity abroad after more than a year in office, a new global survey has found, receiving high marks for his handling of the economic crisis and the lowest for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to a survey of nearly 25,000 people in 22 countries published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, the popularity of the United States has risen most notably over the past year among respondents in Russia and China. Both countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and are essential to American efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The United States continues to have the most difficulty improving its image in Muslim countries. In Egypt, where Mr. Obama gave a much-heralded address in Cairo in June 2009, only 17 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable view of the United States, the lowest rating in the five years Egyptians had been polled. Last year, 27 percent of those polled said they had a favorable view.
Not only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reined in some of the enthusiasm generated by Mr. Obama's election in November 2008. Analysts said that enthusiasm was often based on expectations placed on a popular candidate that a president pursuing American interests would not be able to fulfill.
"People around the world are starting to realize that not everything is going to change under Obama," said Johannes Thimm, an expert on American foreign policy at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. "But it's remarkable that the general bounce back from the Bush administration in the negative standing of the United States has held up."
"Now the big challenge is for Obama to meet the expectations that he's created around the world," Mr. Thimm said.
The Global Attitudes survey was conducted in April and early May both by telephone and through face-to-face interviews by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization in Washington. Interviews were conducted nationwide in each country except China, India and Pakistan, in which samples were disproportionately urban. Margins of sampling error ranged from plus or minus 3 to 5 percentage points.
Positive attitudes toward Mr. Obama himself remain overwhelmingly strong among America's West European allies, according to the survey, with 90 percent of Germans, 87 percent of French and 84 percent of Britons expressing confidence in Mr. Obama to do the right thing in world affairs, compared with 65 percent of Americans surveyed.
Despite recent concerns about the euro in the midst of the European debt crisis, two-thirds of German and French people surveyed said they wanted to keep the euro, with 62 percent and 64 percent respectively saying they saw the European Union in a favorable light.
Among the more surprising results of the survey was the substantial improvement in Russian attitudes toward the United States. Of those surveyed, 57 percent said they had a favorable view of the United States, an increase of 13 percentage points over the previous year. Among Russians who say their country has an enemy, more than one-third, 35 percent, name the United States as its biggest enemy.
After sometimes difficult negotiations, Mr. Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia signed an arms-control treaty in Prague on April 8. The representative survey of 1,001 Russian adults was conducted between April 7 and May 1.
Among Chinese respondents, 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the United States, a number that has risen for three straight years from 34 percent in 2007. The more than 3,000 respondents in China were disproportionately urban, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
At a moment of economic stagnation and instability around the world, Chinese confidence and optimism stood out, with 91 percent of the mostly urban respondents saying they thought their national economy was in good shape, and 87 percent saying they were satisfied with national conditions. That compared to just 30 percent of respondents nationwide in the United States and 26 percent of respondents nationwide in France who said they were satisfied with national conditions.