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Obama’s popularity abroad on the wane, survey finds

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WASHINGTON — US leadership has lost some of its luster abroad, suggesting President Barack Obama can’t count on as much global euphoria as he gears up for a fierce reelection campaign, a new survey found Thursday.

The report card was particularly dire from Serbia and Iran where approval ratings for the White House were below 10 percent. India, Cyprus, Belarus and Egypt also gave the Obama administration less than stellar marks.

Overall, median approval ratings for Washington’s leadership across 136 countries stood at 46 percent in 2011 — largely unchanged from 47 percent across a smaller sample of 116 states a year earlier, but better than during the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Approval ratings for the original pool of 116 countries, meanwhile, declined from 47 percent to 43 percent between 2010 and 2011.

“US leadership ratings in 2011 failed to regain the momentum they lost in 2010 and instead remained static or retreated even more in some places,” said the “US-Global Leadership Project” report, released jointly by Gallup and the Meridian International Center.

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Ratings were strongest in Africa due to enthusiasm in the sub-Saharan part of the continent, the study said. Scores were less rosy in North Africa, however.

The lowest ratings in the region were recorded in Egypt, where a mere 19 percent of those surveyed showed approval for Washington — virtually unchanged despite the revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

In Europe, meanwhile, the picture was mixed.

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The highest and lowest ratings were recorded in the Balkans, with 90 percent of Kosovars saying they approved of US leadership, compared to just eight percent of Serbians. Obama has been a steadfast supporter of Kosovo’s independence, anathema to Serbians.

Cyprus gave Washington a mere 18 percent approval rating. Belarus, often criticized for human rights issues, came in at 19 percent.

While Washington’s approval increased by double digits in Britain and Belgium in 2011, it lost favor on other fronts, including double-digit declines in France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.

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In Asia, the Obama administration’s new foreign policy focus, India’s approval rating was just 18 percent. In contrast, the White House got a 75 percent score from Singapore. Iran, under scrutiny for its nuclear program, gave the White House a mere nine percent.

The survey showed waning support for Obama abroad as the US president gears up for a bruising reelection battle in November against likely Republican opponent Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire businessman and former governor of Massachusetts.

The results were based on interviews with approximately 1,000 individuals aged 15 and older in 2010 and 2011. The maximum margin of error ranges from 1.7 percentage points to 5.7 percentage points.


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