Friday, December 7, 2018

The Global Perspective on America - Part 1 - Donald Trump

Those of that live in North America get a very steady diet of anti-Trump sentiment, particularly from the hosts of American late night television and the liberal press.  The bias in this reportage begs the question; how does the global community feel about Donald Trump and the United States as a whole.  Thanks to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center we have a good sense of how the world feels about the Trump Presidency on the second anniversary of Trump's election, how his approval compares to the leaders of other influential nations and how the rest of the world feels about America in general.  In this two part posting, I will first examine how the world feels about Donald Trump's presidency and in part two, I will take a look at how the world feels about the United States in general and whether Washington takes the interests of the global community into account when making policy decisions. 

For the purposes of this assessment, Pew surveyed 26,112 respondents from 25 nations from all regions of the globe, asking them a series of questions about their perceptions of the Trump presidency.  Let's start this posting by looking at how the "confidence to do the right thing" for Donald Trump compares to both Barack Obama and George W. Bush and how the confidence level varies by nation:


In 2018, confidence in Donald Trump ranges from a low of 7 percent in Spain to a high of 78 percent in the Philippines.  In 17 out of 25 nations, confidence in Donald Trump rose on a year-over-year basis when compared to 2017.  The greatest year-over-year drop in confidence occurred in Russia where confidence in Mr. Trump dropped from 53 percent in 2017 (the highest confidence level for a president in at least 15 years) to 19 percent in 2018.  Confidence rose the most in Israel, jumping from 56 percent in 2017 to 69 percent in 2018.  Confidence in Donald Trump was particularly low in America's next-door neighbour Canada, however, it did rise slightly from 22 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in 2018.  If you compare the confidence level of key European allies in Donald Trump to that of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, here is what you will find:


As well, there is a relationship between Europe's right-wing populist party supporters and Trump's confidence levels:


That said, other than the United Kingdom, there is no European nation in which more than half of right-wing populist party supporters have confidence in Donald Trump.

Let's look at a brief comparison of the confidence levels for other influential world leaders:


Even the much maligned Vladimir Putin has better confidence ratings globally than Donald Trump with 62 percent having no confidence in his ability to "do the right thing" compared to 70 percent for Donald Trump.  The only major leader among the five surveyed with a positive confidence score is Germany's Angela Merkel who managed a 52 percent confidence rating.  Interestingly, in 2018, only 10 percent of Germans, 6 percent of Mexicans and 30 percent of Japanese rate Donald Trump positively, far lower than the confidence that they had in Barack Obama (ranging from 71 to 93 percent for Germans and 38 to 55 percent for Mexicans), roughly the same as the low point for George W. Bush (ranging from 14 to 51 percent for Germany, no rating for Mexico and ranging from 25 to 35 percent for Japan).

The one significant outlier is Israel.  Here is a graphic showing the confidence levels for Israelis in each of the last three presidents showing Russia for comparison:


Confidence in George W. Bush landed from 57 percent to 83 percent, confidence in Barack Obama rated from 49 percent to 71 percent and confidence in Donald Trump has risen from 56 percent in 2017 to 69 percent in 2018, substantially higher than Obama's 49 percent score just before he left office.

As you can see, while Donald Trump has not particularly scored well on an international level, the level of confidence in his presidency has actually risen in parts of the world.  Certainly, it is not surprising that the level of confidence expressed by Russians has plummeted on a year-over-year basis and it is just as unsurprising that the confidence expressed by Israelis has grown substantially, particularly in light of the U.S. abandonment of the Iranian nuclear deal and its announced embassy move to Jerusalem.

In part two of this posting, I will look at the global response to America's approach to the world and whether the global community feels that Washington considers their national interests.