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Favorable Views of U.S. Continue in Canada, Europe, Asia

Europeans express confidence in Obama and Clinton, but not Trump
(4 July 2016). Opinions of the U.S. continue to be largely positive among publics in Europe and Asia, as well as Canada, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in April and May 2016. Results of the surveys from 15 countries, reported last week, also show more residents consider the U.S. the world’s leading economic power in the world, eclipsing China in most nations polled.

The Pew surveys report majorities of publics in 13 of the 15 countries surveyed have a favorable rather than unfavorable overall opinion of the U.S., which in France, Poland, Spain, the U.K., and Japan have continued since 2009. At least 7 in 10 of those surveyed in Poland (74%), Italy (72%), Japan (72%), and Sweden (69%) view the U.S. favorably. Only in Greece does a majority (58%) have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S., while in China the percentage with a favorable view of the U.S. (50%) is not much greater than the unfavorable share (44%).

The Pew surveys report younger residents of the 15 countries tend to be those with the most favorable opinions of the U.S. About 6 in 10 people age 18 to 34 in India (61%) and China (60%) have a favorable view of the U.S., compared to about half (49%) of those age 50 and over in India and about a third (35%) in China in that age group. Only in Sweden is the pattern reversed, where about 3 in 4 (77%) of those 50 and over hold a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared to 59% of people age 18 to 34.

Most of the residents in the countries surveyed support the U.S.-led military effort against Islamic State, from just over half in Japan (52%) and Hungary (53%) to 8 in 10 or more in France (84%) and Sweden (81%). The share of residents opposed to the U.S.-led campaign approaches 4 in 10 in Japan (37%) and Hungary (36%), but the number of residents opposed do not break 3 in 10 in other countries surveyed. The exception to this pattern is Greece, where less than half (48%) approve of military actions against Islamic State, while almost an equal percentage (45%) are opposed. Interviewers did not ask this question in China.

At least a plurality, if not outright majorities, of residents in 10 of the 15 countries countries polled consider the U.S. the leading economic power in the world. Some 6 in 10 residents of Japan (61%) and Hungary (59%) rate the U.S. as the top economic power, as do about half of Indians (51%). A quarter or less of those surveyed in these countries consider China the leading economic power. Less than half, but still pluralities rate the U.S. ahead of China and other competitors (EU, Japan) in Sweden, China, Greece, Italy, U.K., Netherlands, and Poland.

About equal percentages of residents of France, Canada, Spain, and Germany — between 3 to 4 in 10 — rate the U.S. and China as top economic powers in the world. Only in Australia does a majority (52%) see China as the world’s economic leader, compared to about a third (32%) that sees the U.S. in this role. For comparison, a sample of U.S. residents was also asked this question, with a majority (54%) saying the U.S. is the leading economic power in the world, compared to about a third (34%) who say China.

Among political personalities in the U.S., President Obama in the countries surveyed continues to attract confidence in his judgment to do the right thing in world affairs. Large majorities — 8 in 10 or more — of residents in Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, France, U.K., Australia — expressed confidence in Obama doing the right thing regarding world affairs, as do half to three-quarters of residents in Spain, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Japan, India, and China. The exception to this pattern again is Greece where a majority (58%) have no confidence in President Obama’s foreign policy judgment. By comparison, Americans divide largely in favor of those expressing confidence (58%) President Obama will do the right thing in foreign affairs to 40 percent who have no confidence.

Among the presumptive major party candidates in the U.S., survey respondents overall show much more confidence in Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. In Japan, Australia, Canada, and most European countries, majorities or large pluralities of residents have confidence Clinton will do the right thing in foreign affairs. The exceptions are Greece where 78 percent have no confidence in Clinton, as well as China which is split about evenly between confidence and no confidence, and India where more than half of the residents have no opinion. Donald Trump, on the other hand, generates no confidence almost across the board. In India, only about a third of the residents answered the question.

Results for the survey are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International and TNS BMRB. The results are based on national samples, unless otherwise noted, during April and May 2016. Confidence intervals, sometimes called margins of error, ranged from 3.2 to 4.6 percent in each country sample.

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