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Outlook Grim in Latin America for Relations Under Trump

Outlook Grim in Latin America for Relations Under Trump
by Elizabeth Keating

Story Highlights

  • 16% in Latin America approve of Trump's job performance
  • Trump trails Obama's approval ratings in year one in every country
  • Latin Americans expect relations to worsen rather than improve

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The image of U.S. leadership took a hit worldwide during Donald Trump's first year in office, but nowhere more so than in Latin America, where the median approval rating dropped from 49% in 2016 to 24% in 2017. As low as the approval rating was for the U.S. leadership in general, fewer in the region, 16%, approved of Trump's job performance when asked about it specifically. Sixty-three percent in the region disapproved.

Trump's image was poor across the region even before the recent controversy involving the revocation of Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of Haitian and Salvadoran refugees, and his alleged disparaging remarks about them. The U.S. president's approval ratings were highest in Venezuela at 37%, while his lowest ratings came from Mexico, where only 7% approved of his job performance.

In comparison, majorities in almost every Latin American country approved of former President Barack Obama when Gallup asked a similar question during his first year in office. Trump's year one approval rating trails Obama's in every country Gallup surveyed in both years, with the largest declines in El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Declines in Approval Across Latin America
Now thinking of the president of the United States, do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of Donald Trump / Barack Obama?
Approve (Trump) Disapprove (Trump) Approve (Obama) Disapprove (Obama) Decline in approval rating (2009-2017)
% % % % pct. pts.
Venezuela 37 48 48 23 -11
Dominican Republic 34 50 72 4 -38
Peru 26 55 53 15 -27
Brazil 23 58 61 15 -38
Haiti 22 58 NA NA NA
Colombia 20 62 68 9 -48
Ecuador 19 61 50 18 -31
Honduras 19 71 65 16 -46
Panama 19 61 77 4 -58
Bolivia 16 60 46 23 -30
El Salvador 16 71 83 5 -67
Guatemala 16 72 55 18 -39
Trinidad & Tobago 15 63 NA NA NA
Nicaragua 14 67 56 14 -42
Costa Rica 13 75 80 8 -67
Jamaica 13 71 NA NA NA
Argentina 11 63 55 14 -44
Chile 11 74 72 8 -61
Uruguay 11 69 64 7 -52
Mexico 7 83 62 16 -55
Gallup World Poll

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Many Feel Trump Will Weaken Relations Between Countries

In 2017, Gallup also asked Latin Americans about the effect Trump might have on the relationship between their country and the U.S., as it did with Obama in 2009. Across the board, only a small percentage of residents believe that Trump will have a positive influence on the relationship between their country and the U.S.

Residents of Mexico are the most likely of all to expect the relationship to weaken, with nearly two in three (64%) anticipating this. In all 20 countries surveyed, fewer than one in five residents believe that the relationship with the U.S. will strengthen with Trump in office. In many countries, more than 40% of residents feel Trump will negatively affect the relationship between their country and the United States.

Few Think Trump Will Strengthen Relationship
Do you think the relationship between [COUNTRY] and the U.S. will strengthen, remain the same or weaken with the new U.S. President Donald Trump?
Strengthen Remain the same Weaken Don't know/Refused
% % % %
Mexico 5 24 64 7
El Salvador 5 26 56 13
Costa Rica 5 34 50 11
Bolivia 6 21 52 23
Guatemala 9 25 50 15
Nicaragua 9 25 47 19
Uruguay 9 37 33 21
Chile 10 33 40 16
Venezuela 11 16 60 14
Jamaica 11 25 52 13
Trinidad & Tobago 11 28 45 16
Honduras 12 24 49 15
Panama 13 38 32 17
Ecuador 14 30 33 23
Colombia 15 28 43 15
Peru 15 31 34 20
Argentina 15 32 30 23
Brazil 16 21 45 18
Dominican Republic 18 26 40 17
Haiti 18 30 32 21
Gallup World Poll, 2017

In Obama's first year in office, the story was vastly different. Residents from every Latin American country surveyed were more likely to say Obama would strengthen relations with their country than to say he would weaken them. In five countries, majorities said Obama would strengthen relations between their country and the U.S., and several other countries had at least one-third of residents saying this.

Many Optimistic About Obama
Do you think the relationship between [COUNTRY] and the U.S. will strengthen, remain the same or weaken with the new U.S. President Barack Obama?
Strengthen Remain the same Weaken Don't know/Refused
% % % %
Dominican Republic 67 9 3 21
Costa Rica 63 21 5 10
Chile 60 21 3 16
Panama 56 24 2 18
Uruguay 53 18 3 26
El Salvador 50 43 2 5
Brazil 47 21 5 27
Colombia 47 24 11 18
Argentina 43 28 5 25
Mexico 43 31 9 18
Honduras 42 28 11 19
Peru 35 29 6 30
Guatemala 32 35 12 21
Bolivia 31 31 11 27
Venezuela 30 28 10 32
Nicaragua 30 34 13 23
Ecuador 26 39 11 25
Paraguay 24 19 2 55
Gallup World Poll, 2009

Even among the few residents who approve of Trump's job performance, there are many who do not feel he will improve the relationship between their country and the U.S. Less than half of residents who approve of Trump believe he will have a positive influence, while 32% believe the relationship will remain the same, and 14% believe Trump will actually weaken the relationship.

170116_Fact-vs-Opinion

Bottom Line

With its "America First" foreign policy, the Trump administration has made it clear that it will pursue immigration controls and border security measures. However, this region remains an important partner in trade and security for the United States, and striking a balance in years to come may prove difficult when Latin Americans as a whole disapprove of Trump's job performance in his first year.

The same is true for how Latin Americans think the president will affect the relationship between their country and the U.S., with far more residents believing Trump will weaken the relationship compared with those who believed the same about Obama. Given Trump's recent actions and alleged comments regarding refugees and immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador, the future of these partnerships remains tenuous.

Download the Rating World Leaders: 2018 report.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews in 20 countries with between 500 to 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, between April and November 2017. For results based on the total samples, the margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.6 percentage points to ±5.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

Gallup


Gallup http://news.gallup.com/poll/226193/outlook-grim-latin-america-relations-trump.aspx
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