If other major developed countries could vote in the United States’ 2020 election, President Donald Trump’s chances of winning a second term would be slim and none. Trump was unpopular in Europe, Australia and Canada before the coronavirus pandemic — apart from extremist far-right groups — but according to a newly released poll by Pew Research Center, Trump’s mishandling of the crisis is creating negative views of the U.S. in countries ranging from Germany to Australia to Japan.
In an article for Pew’s website, Richard Wike, Janell Fetterolf and Mara Mordecai explain, “Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.”
Pew has compiled data on views of the U.S. in 13 different countries during a 20-year period: 2000-2020, using U.S. Department of State data for 1999 and 2000. The countries range from parts of Europe (including France, the U.K., Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy) to South Korea, Canada, Japan and Australia. The U.K. is really four countries in one (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). So, in a sense, Pew was arguably looking at 16 different countries rather than 13. And Pew’s polling makes it clear how badly the United States’ image has suffered in the rest of the developed world.
Respondents who have a favorable view of the U.S. in 2020 include 24% in Belgium, 26% in Germany, 30% in the Netherlands, 31% in France, 35% in Canada, 34% in Denmark and 33% in Sweden and Australia. The five most favorable of the 13 countries were South Korea at 59%, Italy at 45%, Japan and the U.K. at 41% and Spain at 40%.
Pew asked respondents whether or not they believed that the U.S. has done a good job handling the coronavirus crisis: those who thought the U.S. had done a good job ranged from 7% in Denmark, 9% in Germany, 11% in Belgium, 20% in Spain, 16% in the U.K., 15% in France and Sweden, 18% in Italy and 14% in the Netherlands to 15% in Japan, 14% in Australia, 6% in South Korea and 16% in Canada.
As bad as Trump’s approval ratings have been in the U.S., they are lower in the rest of the developed world. Respondents who told Pew they had “confidence in Trump” range from 9% in Belgium, 10% in Germany, 11% in France, 18% in the Netherlands, 15% in Sweden, 19% in the U.K. and 16% in Italy to 17% in South Korea, 25% in Japan, 23% in Australia and 20% in Canada.
In some of those countries, respondents made a distinction between Trump’s presidency and the U.S. on the whole. In South Korea, for example, 59% of respondents still have a favorable view of the U.S.—even though only 17% of South Korea residents have confidence in Trump. In Italy, similarly, Pew found that 45% view the U.S. favorably even though only 17% view Trump favorably.
According to Wike, Fetterolf and Mordecai, “Attitudes toward Trump have consistently been much more negative than those toward his predecessor, Barack Obama, especially in Western Europe. In the U.K., Spain, France and Germany, ratings for Trump are similar to those received by George W. Bush near the end of his presidency."