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Americans' Favorable Views of Mexico Highest Since 2006

Americans' Favorable Views of Mexico Highest Since 2006
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • 64% of Americans have positive views of Mexico
  • Favorable views of Mexico reach all-time high among Democrats
  • Republicans, Democrats more divided on Mexico than on 19 other countries

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As President Donald Trump sets his sights on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Americans have a more favorable view of Mexico than they have in over a decade. Sixty-four percent of Americans say they have "very" or "mostly" favorable views of the country, up from 59% in 2016 and the highest since 2006.

Graph 1

Mexico's latest favorable rating, recorded in Gallup's annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 1-5, is not the highest in Gallup's trend. Higher percentages of Americans, ranging from 67% to 74%, looked favorably on their southern neighbor from 2001 to 2005, when President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox enjoyed a warm relationship.

After peaking at 74% in 2003 and 2005, Americans' positive views of Mexico fell to 64% in 2006 amid heightened publicity about drug and gang wars and issues related to near-record-high illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S. Favorable views of the country continued to wane for another five years, bottoming out at 45% in 2011 -- the lowest rating for Mexico since 1993, just before Californians passed a high-profile anti-immigrant ballot measure. Since 2011, Mexico's image has gradually improved, rising 19 percentage points.

Democrats Drive Overall Increase in Mexico's Favorable Rating

The overall increase in positive views of Mexico since last year is largely due to more Democrats viewing Mexico favorably. A record-high 83% of Democrats view Mexico favorably, up 11 points since last year -- likely a sympathetic bump in reaction to Trump's positions on Mexico and Mexican immigrants in the U.S.

However, while many in the GOP share Trump's opinions on Mexico, his comments and presidential initiatives seem to have had little to no effect on Republicans' views over the past year. Forty-six percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Mexico, similar to the 44% recorded in 2016 during the height of the presidential campaign and to the 43% measured in 2015, before Trump announced his candidacy for president.

Graph 2

The gap that exists between Democrats' and Republicans' views on Mexico is not new, but it is the widest it's been in Gallup's trend. The current 37-point difference between the two groups is even larger than last year's 28 points, which at the time was the highest since 2001.

The two parties' favorable ratings of the country were within single-digit differences in most years from 2002 to 2010.

The difference between Republicans' and Democrats' views of Mexico is among the largest for any of the 20 countries measured in this year's World Affairs poll. Only one country, Cuba, shows a similar party difference, with the country's favorable rating 36 points higher among Democrats than Republicans.

Bottom Line

Nearly two-thirds of Americans have favorable views of Mexico, reflecting a significant improvement from a near-record low of 45% in 2011. Since then, even before Trump announced his intention to run for president, Mexico's image has steadily improved among all party groups. However, Democrats' views have warmed the most, particularly in the past year -- likely reflecting Democrats' rejection of Trump's policies on Mexican immigration, such as constructing a border wall.

It might come as little surprise to observers of the 2016 election that views of Mexico would yield the largest partisan divide, given the campaign promises that led to Trump's win. While Trump's initiatives have spiked favorable views of Mexico among Democrats, his own Republican Party is essentially unmoved by the events of the past year, maintaining a favorable rating similar to those in prior years.

Given that Democrats' favorability toward Mexico is at a new high while Republicans' has barely budged, Mexico's image may not improve any further unless Republicans' views become more positive. While it's possible that the actions Trump takes in his first year in office could spur support for Mexico beyond just Democrats, a U.S.-Mexico standoff over payment for a border wall could sour Republicans' views of the country.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 1-5, 2017, with a random sample of 1,035 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.​

Gallup


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