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Obama, Struggling on Homefront, Still a Global Pop Star, Poll Finds

5 years ago
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At home it's all about oil spill, a staggering deficit, high unemployment and the blood and treasure pouring into two wars. But in most parts of the world, American President Barack Obama remains highly popular, an international pop star leading a country that is more warmly received in most quarters than it was under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Yet the favorable findings in an extensive Pew Research Center survey do not extend to the Muslim world, and approval of Obama elsewhere does not necessarily equate to approval of his policies. In Egypt, America's favorability rating slipped from 27 percent to 17 percent, compared to 2009, while in Turkey, a key U.S. ally, confidence in Obama dropped 10 points to 23 percent. In many Muslim nations, the United States is still seen as a military threat.

Beyond Muslim countries, Obama get mixed marks on foreign policy, as many of those sampled still think the U.S. moves unilaterally in world affairs, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which polled more than 24,000 people in 22 nations between April 7 and May 8. (From country to country, the margin of error ranged from 2.5 to 5 points, plus or minus.) About as many approve as disapprove of his handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the tense situation in Iran.
President Obama in Prague 2009
But Pew noted that "in a striking difference from the Bush years, these policy disagreements have not significantly dented the U.S. image. The U.S. favorability rating in Western Europe is overwhelmingly positive, and confidence in Obama to do the right thing remains high." This is especially true in Germany, Pew said, where 90 percent trust Obama, and in France (87 percent) and Great Britain (84 percent). In the United States, 65 percent of those surveyed said they thought Obama would do the right thing in world affairs.

"In most countries, especially in wealthier nations, President Barack Obama gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the way he has handled the world economic crisis," a summary of the findings said. "The notable exception is the United States itself, where as many disapprove of their president's approach to the global recession as approve." With unemployment at 9.7 percent, the oil still spilling into Gulf Coast waters and a constant battering from conservative talk show hosts and bloggers, Obama's troubles at home have grown. Groups, like the Tea Party movement, work actively to elect candidates opposed to his policies.

In late March, a CNN/Opinion Research poll gave Obama a 46 percent approval rating on job performance and found a majority disapproved of his handling of five of seven domestic issues, including the economy. And yet, the same survey found 70 percent of Americans liked him -- that is, approved of him on a personal level. Pew put his approval rating in the United States at 47 percent -- down from 64 percent the month after he took office in 2009. Just prior to the White House announcement that BP had agreed to set up a $20 billion relief fund, a USA/Today Gallup Poll found that 71 percent of Americans did not think the president had been tough enough on the giant oil company responsible for the disastrous spill.

From the outset of his administration, Obama seemed intent on improving America's image abroad and using his personal charisma and platform as the first African-American president to charm foreign audiences. In his first year in office, he traveled extensively, taking seven international trips to 16 foreign countries. This year the schedule slowed down. Other than a surprise visit to Afghanistan in March and a trip to the Czech Republic in April to sign a new arms agreement with Russia, Obama has stayed home to wrestle with domestic issues. Twice, the White House postponed planned trips to Indonesia and Australia, the first time to focus on health care reform; the second time because of the spill.

But a positive impression abroad lingers. The United States is viewed favorably by 73 percent of the French, compared with 42 percent feeling positive in 2008 -- Bush's last year in office. In China, 58 percent have a favorable view, compared with 41 percent in 2008. America is off the charts in African nations, like Kenya -- Obama's father's birthplace -- and Nigeria, at 94 percent and 81 percent, respectively. Most of those nations also generally support America's anti-terror efforts, though the numbers narrow when it comes to keeping troops in Afghanistan.

But it is a different story in Muslim countries. In Pakistan and Egypt, only 17 percent of the public hold America in a good light, down a little from 2008. In Jordan, Israel's Arab neighbor, only 21 percent see the United States positively. And just 11 percent in Turkey, a NATO country, want the United States to stay in Afghanistan.

America's image also took a hit in Mexico after passage of a state law in Arizona giving the police the right to check the immigration status of individuals they deem suspicious. The country's favorability rating tumbled to 44 percent from 62 percent before enactment of the law.

Significantly, given the 2009 worldwide recession, less than half the population was satisfied with the direction of their respective countries -- that finding included only 30 percent in the United States.

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My fear is that some people in those countries want to see the fall of United States and only support Obama, for what he is not doing for the American People. As for the Arab nations, they want us out of their business, yet their leaders will wccept our money. We are living in a world that is falling apart, through GREED. We now have more rich people in the world and even more poor or on the verge of being declared poor. What happened to humanity? We in America welcome immigrants and give them whatever they need to live here, myet there is less help for the American People.

June 21 2010 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

If they like him so much they can take him!

June 21 2010 at 12:14 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Obama has done a great job undoing the damage that was done before him. From Wall Street to the Gulf those disastors lay at the feet of the republicans. They are the very ones that de-regulated the industry that made sure these disastors could and did happen. The root cause is a pure mixture of corruption and bad policies that dont look out for the best interest of the American people. Go ahead and blame anything on Obama you want but America is waking up to the spin and misinformation just as before. We moderates and independants havent forgotten who drove the car in the ditch and stood there and made sure we couldnt get it out, Obama didnt take us into Iraq or Afghanistan, he didnt ask for 800 billion for Wall Street, that was the last guy I guess were not allowed to talk about. It also wasnt Obama that de-regulated offshore drilling that brought us the Gulf disastor. Go ahead and gutter snipe, it has the same effect as Bartons misguided comments.

June 21 2010 at 10:36 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

A Global pop star!!!! oh wonderful.. Americas pop star president!! And im sure he loves that status.. Gosh i cant wait for nov to vote all the POP STARS OUT!!!

June 19 2010 at 8:51 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

Obama has/had no experience in operating a business. He was a community orgainizer--how can we expect him to tend to a crisis like the BP Oil disaster? He instead chose to have parties at the WH (Paul McCartny, Beyonce, etc.), play golf, and after months, finally, found the oil spill important enough to take him down to the Gulf.

Please let saner people in gov't ignore the EPA and let the people in the Gulf use the resouces available that can help to clean up the mess.

June 19 2010 at 8:36 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

Now obama just needs to figure out how to let the "global community" vote in the elections? Funny how these same countries like obama so much but they were unwilling to send any troops to Afghanistan?

June 19 2010 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
Howdy Linda

If President Obama is so popular abroad, let's reassign him to an Ambassador somewhere and put someone in the White House who really cares about America! What an oh so simple solution!

June 19 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply

Americans seem to have no clue they were electing Rock Star Barbie.

June 18 2010 at 5:42 PM Report abuse +25 rate up rate down Reply


June 18 2010 at 2:04 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply

Can you "trade" a President to another country for cash and a leader to be named later?

June 18 2010 at 8:34 AM Report abuse +29 rate up rate down Reply

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