Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, the image of the United States abroad remains far less positive than it was before the war and at the beginning of the century. However, this survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project finds some encouraging signs for America's global image for the first time this decade.
Favorable views of the United States have increased modestly since 2007 in 10 of 21 countries where comparative data are available. Perhaps more importantly, the polling finds many people around the world paying close attention to the U.S. presidential election. Moreover – except in countries that are extremely anti-American – those who are paying attention generally believe the next president may well change U.S. foreign policy for the better. In nearly every country surveyed, greater numbers express confidence in presidential candidate Barack Obama than in John McCain.
However, the survey of more than 24,000 people in 24 countries, conducted March 17 to April 21, finds another change in global opinion that could present a formidable challenge to the United States in the future. Around the world, people have a new concern: slumping economic conditions. And they have a familiar complaint – most think the U.S. is having a considerable influence on their economy, and it is largely seen as a negative one.
Majorities in 18 of the 24 countries surveyed describe current economic conditions in their country as bad. Assessments have worsened over the past year among countries surveyed in both this year and 2007. The median percentage rating their national economy as bad rose from 50% in 2007 to 61% in the current poll. The proportion of respondents expressing a positive view of their nation's economy has declined in 14 of the 22 countries since last year.
The publics of two emerging Asian superpowers – China and India – remain upbeat about national economic conditions, though Indians are less positive than they were a year ago. In contrast, some of the most negative evaluations of economic conditions come from citizens of advanced Western countries. Positive views of the economy have declined sharply over the past year in Great Britain, the United States and Spain. France, where most people were already quite negative about the economy, registered a further decline; in the current survey, just 19% of the French view the national economy as good, down from 30% in 2007.
Read the full report Global Economic Gloom on the Pew Global Attitudes Project Web site.