People around the world have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than in Donald Trump

The world has almost twice as much confidence in Germany’s Angela Merkel as in Donald Trump.
The world has almost twice as much confidence in Germany’s Angela Merkel as in Donald Trump.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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In the final weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, he admonished the 37% of Republican voters who said they approved of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave,” he said (paywall). Weeks later, a poll found—perhaps not surprisingly—that Putin was more popular with Donald Trump voters than Obama was.

Obama may feel a small amount of schadenfreude, then, at the fact that global confidence in Putin is now a full five points higher than in Trump, according to a Pew survey of more than 40,000 people in 37 countries. (The US and China were not among them). Just 39.5% of Americans approve of Trump, but around the world that number goes down to 22%, with 74% having no confidence in the US president. Putin has a 27% approval rating (he can boast a lofty 81% domestically).

Obama himself also easily outstrips his successor in terms of global backing. When asked whethere they were “confident in the US president to do the right thing in world affairs,” an average of 64% said yes when Obama was president, compared to 22% now under Trump. Of the 37 countries surveyed, only Israelis and Russians are more confident in Trump than they were in Obama. Meanwhile, countries like Sweden saw an enormous swing in their views on the US president; 93% were confident in Obama, as opposed to 10% in Trump.

As global confidence in the US president has plummeted, so has the world’s views of the US as a whole. At the end of Obama’s presidency, an average of 64% of people across the 37 countries had a favorable view of the US; now that number is down at 49%.

What exactly is the problem with Trump then?

Which all begs the question—what is it the world so dislikes about the new president? Well, seemingly everything.

When read a list of characteristics and asked whether they accurately described Trump, respondents found him arrogant, intolerant, unqualified and dangerous. There was some respite though: 55% think he’s a strong leader.

But the distaste for the billionaire president doesn’t just stop at his personality; Trump’s international policies are also deeply unpopular, the poll shows. Of his five major foreign-policy proposals, all but his plan to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal met with disapproval from well over half of respondents. (However, it’s worth noting that the only Middle Eastern countries Pew surveyed were Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, which might skew the responses about Iran and the ban on visas for six Muslim-majority countries.)