Europeans generally reacted to President Obama’s re-election with a mixture of excitement and relief, just as they did four years ago. For many across the Atlantic, Obama’s 2008 victory signaled the end of the Bush-era estrangement between the U.S. and its Western allies, and the emergence of an America that would see the world a lot like Europeans do. However, despite Obama’s re-election at home and continued popularity in Europe, his presidency has not closed the long-running transatlantic values gap. Instead, on issues such as the use of military force, religion, and individualism, Americans and Europeans continue to disagree.
Obama has been popular in Europe since he toured the Continent as a presidential contender. Following George W. Bush’s two terms in office, Europeans immediately embraced Obama’s presidency. A stunning 93% of Germans expressed confidence in Obama in the early months of his first term, compared with just 14% for Bush during his final year in office. In Britain, France, and Spain, the new American president also received stratospheric ratings.
The result was a dramatic “Obama effect” on attitudes toward the U.S. In France, for instance, America’s favorability rating soared from 42% in 2008 to 75% in 2009. And importantly, support for American policies grew, especially support for U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. The enthusiasm that greeted Obama’s election has waned a bit over time, even in Europe, but vestiges of “Obamamania” remain. The 2012 Pew Global Attitudes survey found at least eight-in-ten expressing confidence in the U.S. president in Germany, France, and Britain.
Read the full article, Anti-Americanism Down in Europe, But a Values Gap Persists, on the Pew Global Attitudes Project website.