Friday, August 18, 2017

The Health of Brand USA

With the Trump Administration taking a great deal of criticism for its policies, it begs the question; how has the American brand been impacted.  In Pew's most recent versions of its Global Attitudes and Trends survey, we get a sense of how the public in many nations regard the United States, a view that is quite important in this time of endless criticisms of many nations by Washington.

The poll was taken during the first quarter of 2017 and respondents were interviewed by telephone or with a face-to-face interview.  Between 1000 and 1500 people in 37 nations took part in the survey with a total of 40.477 respondents.  Pew Research Center international studies target the permanent adult population (aged 18 and older) with attempts to cover as much of the adult population as possible, limiting their coverage to areas that are extremely remote or subject to insecurity (i.e. parts of Pakistan).  The margin of error is generally between 3.0 and 5.0 percentage points 19 times out of 20.  With that background, let's look at how the world views "Brand America".

Let's start with a look at how various regions and countries view the United States:


A global median of 49 percent of respondents held a favourable view of the United States, a significant drop from the median of 64 percent during the later years of the Obama Administration.  Let's look at a breakdown by region:

1.) Europe - the median for Europe was 52 percent unfavourable and 46 percent favourable.  Four out of ten EU countries surveyed had a more positive view of the United States; Poland (most favourable at 73 percent), Hungary, Italy and the United Kingdom.  The remaining six nations surveyed had a negative view with Germany having the highest unfavourable rating at 62 percent.

2.) Asia - the median for Asia was 57 percent favourable and 23 percent unfavourable with all 7 nations surveyed having a more positive view of the United States.  The the most positive view of the United States was held by Vietnam at 84 percent with only 11 percent negative. 

3.) Middle East - the median for the Middle East was 64 percent unfavourable and 27 percent favourable.  Only one of the five nations surveyed had a positive view of the United States; Israel at 81 percent.  The most unfavourable rating came from Jordanians with an 82 percent unfavourable view.

4.) Africa - the median for Africa was 56 percent favourable and 26 percent unfavourable with all six nations having a positive view of the United States.  The most positive view of the United States was held by Nigeria with a 69 percent favourability rating.

5.) South and Central America - the median for South and Central America was 47 percent favourable and 38 percent unfavourable.  Four of the seven nations surveyed had a more positive view of the United States; Columbia (most favourable at 51 percent), Peru, Brazil and Venezuela.  The remaining three nations had a negative view of the United States with Mexico having the highest unfavourable rating at 65 percent.

6.) Canada - 43 percent favourable, 51 percent unfavourable.

7.) Russia - 41 percent favourable, 52 percent unfavourable.

It is interesting to see how outsiders' view of the United States varies with age.  In 16 of the 37 nations surveyed in 2017, young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 have a more favourable view of the United States than their older counterparts, sometimes by a very wide margin.  For example in France, 64 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 viewed the United States positively compared to only 40 percent of people aged 50 and older.  As well, there is a gender gap with men expressing a more positive opinion of the United States that women in ten nations; in the case of Australia, 58 percent of men viewed the United States positively compared to only 38 percent of women.

Let's close with a table showing how much the world has changed its view of the United States with the change in political leadership in 2017:


As you can see, of the 37 nations in the study, respondents in only six nations have a more positive feeling about the United States since the Trump Administration took control with Russia heading the group with a 26 percentage point improvement in favourability, rising from 15 percent to 41 percent despite the ongoing anti-Russia sentiment in the United States.  On the other hand, Mexicans view of the United States took the biggest plunge with favourability dropping by 36 percentage points from 66 percent to 30 percent.

It is interesting to see how Brand America is under pressure during the first six months of the Trump Administration.  While nearly half of respondents around the world still give a positive overall rating to the United States image, there has been a substantial growth in the number of people, particularly among America's traditional allies in Europe and the Middle East (save Israel), who believe that the United States is not following a favourable path.  That is particularly evident when one looks at Donald Trump's international confidence rating as shown here: