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Major Nations Don’t Reciprocate U.S. Approval

by Julie Ray

Fifty-one point gap separates Americans’, Germans’ ratings of each other’s leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup Polls reveal huge gaps between the approval ratings that Americans give to the leadership of other major nations and the ratings that residents of these nations give to U.S. leadership.

Between 2005 and 2008, Gallup asked people worldwide whether they approve of the leadership of various countries. Americans surveyed in 2007 were far more likely to say they approve of the leadership of the seven nations they were asked about than people in these nations were to approve of U.S. leadership.

Americans, Britons, and Germans

The two largest gaps in leadership approval are between Americans and Britons, and Americans and Germans. Fifty-one percentage points separate Americans' and Germans' approval of each other's leadership. The difference is 50 points between Americans' and Britons' estimations.

Solid majorities of Americans say they approve of the leadership of the United Kingdom (70%) and Germany (59%), while far fewer Britons (20%) and even fewer Germans (8%) approve of U.S. leadership.

Americans, Canadians, the Japanese, and French

The gaps are only somewhat smaller when Americans' perceptions are compared with those of Canadians, the Japanese, and the French. Forty-one points separate Americans' and Japanese approval of each other's leadership. The difference is 40 points between Americans and Canadians and between Americans and the French.

At least two-thirds of Americans say they approve of Canadian leadership (71%) and Japan's leadership (65%), while less than a third of Canadians (31%) and about a quarter of Japanese (24%) approve of U.S. leadership. About half of Americans (49%) approve of France's leadership, but only 9% of the French approve of U.S. leadership.

Americans, Indians, and Russians

Though Americans are less likely to approve of the leadership in Russia or India, they are still more likely to do so than Russians and Indians are to approve of U.S. leadership. The gaps are smaller, but still notable. Fourteen points separate Americans' and Russians' approval of each other's leadership, and 12 points separate Americans and Indians.

About 4 in 10 Americans (39%) say they approve of India's leadership, while 27% of Indians say they approve of the leadership of the United States. (It is important to note that a majority of Indians answered this question with "don't know" or "refused.") About 1 in 4 Americans say they approve of Russia's leadership, but only 1 in 10 Russians say they approve of the United States' leadership.

Bottom Line

Americans give relatively glowing approval to the leadership of several nations Gallup asked them about, but residents of these nations do not return the favor. However, in nearly all instances, Americans also give higher approval to other countries' leadership than they do to their own leadership. When Americans were asked in August 2007 whether they approve of their own country's leadership, 31% said they do.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted with 1,355 Canadians in December 2005, 1,220 French citizens in December 2006, 1,221 Germans in January 2007, 1,204 Britons in January 2007, 3,186 Indians in April 2007, 1,225 U.S. residents in August 2007, 1,479 Russians in August 2007, and 1,151 Japanese in August 2007. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is between ±2 and ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


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