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Fewer Americans Say Mexico Is a U.S. Friend or Ally

Fewer Americans Say Mexico Is a U.S. Friend or Ally

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • 72% in U.S. say Mexico is a friend or ally, the lowest in Gallup's trend
  • 26% say Mexico is unfriendly or an enemy, the highest trend point

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' views of U.S. relations with Mexico are at new lows with 72% of Americans saying Mexico is an ally (27%) or a friend (45%) of the U.S., the lowest point in Gallup's nearly 20-year trend. Twenty-six percent say the country is an enemy (20%) or unfriendly (6%) toward the U.S., the highest percentage historically.


These data come from a June 2-8 Gallup survey asking Americans about U.S. relations with each of 12 different countries. The survey was conducted as U.S.-Mexico relations continue to be fraught with difficulty and marked by criticism from President Donald Trump concerning immigration and trade. Trump has made the construction of a wall to halt illegal immigration between the U.S. and Mexico a key policy of his administration.

Gallup has asked Americans their views on U.S.-Mexico relations four times since 2000. For the first two readings, in 2000 and 2001, nearly nine in 10 Americans (88%) said the country was a friend or ally. However, in June 2013, the percentage of Americans saying Mexico was a friend or ally fell 10 percentage points. Americans' views of U.S.-Mexico relations may have soured at that point over views that drug cartel-related violence, which was spiraling at the time, would spill over across the border. Opinions on the relationship have continued to become less positive, with 72% now saying Mexico is an ally or friend and 26% an enemy or unfriendly.

Democrats More Positive Than Republicans on U.S.-Mexico Relations

Not surprisingly, given Trump's criticism of Mexico, Democrats are more positive about U.S.-Mexico relations. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats say Mexico is a U.S. ally and 40% view the country as friendly, but not an ally. This contrasts with the 17% of Republicans who believe Mexico is a U.S. ally and 49% who view the country as friendly.

Americans' Views on U.S.-Mexico Relations, by Political Affiliation
For each of the following countries, please say whether you consider it an ally of the United States, friendly, but not an ally, unfriendly, or an enemy of the United States. How about Mexico?
Ally Friendly, but not an ally Unfriendly Enemy
% % % %
July 2018
Republican 17 49 25 9
Democrat 38 40 15 6
June 2013
Republican 28 45 18 6
Democrat 35 48 10 3
April 2001
Republican 36 54 5 1
Democrat 31 54 6 4

There has been a divergent trend in views of Mexico as an ally of the United States between the current reading and 2001, with fewer Republicans seeing the country as an ally, while more Democrats do so. In 2001, there was a modest difference of five percentage points between the two partisan groups on perceptions of Mexico as a U.S. ally. That has since grown to a 21-point gap in the current reading.

Majorities of Americans See Several Countries as Allies or Friends

Mexico ranks behind several countries that clear majorities of Americans see as allies or friendly toward the U.S. Eighty-five percent or more say Great Britain, Canada, France, Japan and Germany are allies of or friendly toward the U.S., likely reflecting the long alliances with these countries.

Americans' Views of Relations With Key Countries
For each of the following countries, please say whether you consider it an ally of the United States, friendly, but not an ally, unfriendly, or an enemy of the United States. How about--?
Ally Friendly, but not an ally Unfriendly Enemy
% % % %
Great Britain 60 32 4 1
Canada 57 37 5 *
France 49 41 7 1
Japan 46 39 11 2
Germany 45 41 10 2
Israel 45 34 13 6
Mexico 27 45 20 6
Saudi Arabia 15 38 29 14
China 12 43 32 12
Russia 6 25 37 29
Iran 3 14 41 39
North Korea 2 15 33 46
Gallup, June 2-8, 2018

Americans' attitudes concerning relations with Saudi Arabia and China are more mixed. Fifty-three percent in the U.S. see Saudi Arabia as an ally or friendly, compared with 43% who say it's an enemy or unfriendly. Americans' attitudes about China are similar, with 55% saying the country is an ally or friendly and 44% identifying it as an enemy or unfriendly. The majority positive view of China on this measure is in contrast to the 62% who say China's trade policies toward the U.S. are unfair.

Three countries, Russia, Iran and North Korea, are viewed as enemies or unfriendly by majorities of Americans. Sixty-six percent consider Russia an enemy or unfriendly, while substantial percentages say the same of Iran (80%) and North Korea (79%)

Notably, there have been some key changes in Americans' perceptions of relations with three of the 12 countries Gallup asked about, including:

  • The 57% of Americans who consider Canada an ally is down slightly from 61% in 2013, perhaps because of Trump's recent criticism of the country's trade policies.
  • There has also been a substantial improvement in Americans' assessment of relations with Germany, with the percentage viewing the country as a U.S. ally having risen to 45%, up from 27% in April 2003, the last time Gallup asked about the country.
  • Americans' opinions of France-U.S. relations have also improved from a low of 18% who saw the country as an ally in April 2003 to the 49% who do so now.

Bottom Line

Trump has routinely criticized Mexico, infamously referring to Mexican immigrants as criminals in a June 15, 2016, speech during his election campaign. Trump has also imposed tariffs on Mexican goods and routinely criticizes the country for its alleged failures to do more to stop the smuggling of illegal narcotics and prevent immigrants from illegally crossing the U.S. border. Americans' attitudes on U.S.-Mexico relations had taken a negative turn in 2013. But this steady drumbeat of critical rhetoric, as well as his vow to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it, appears to have further contributed to worsening assessments among Republicans, which are largely responsible for the decrease among Americans overall since then.

Americans' increasingly negative attitudes toward U.S.-Mexico relations could potentially have an impact on the ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA. Given these views, Americans may be more willing to support a tougher stance in these negotiations, despite the potential impact on trade with Mexico, the United States' third largest trading partner.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 2-8, 2018, on the Gallup U.S. Poll, with a random sample of 1,291 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 ±3 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 U.S. Poll works.

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