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U.S. Approval Ratings Rally From Record Lows

U.S. Approval Ratings Rally From Record Lows

Story Highlights

  • Median approval of U.S. leadership at 49% so far in 2021
  • Germany earns highest approval rating in recent record
  • Russia rated higher than U.S., China in 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Six months into Joe Biden's presidency, approval ratings of U.S. leadership around the world had largely rebounded from the record-low ratings observed during the Trump administration.

A new Gallup report shows that as of early August 2021, across 46 countries and territories, median approval of U.S. leadership stood at 49%. This rating is up from the 30% median approval at the end of Donald Trump's presidency and matches the rating during former President Barack Obama's first year in office in 2009.

However, while the 49% median approval rating for U.S. leadership so far under Biden compares favorably with ratings during the Obama administration, the 36% disapproval rating is also higher than any of those under Obama. Still, disapproval under Biden is seven percentage points lower than the final disapproval rating under Trump -- a record-high 44%.


Line graph. Trend line for global approval ratings of U.S. leadership from 2007 under former President George W. Bush through the first half of 2021 under President Joe Biden.

The global approval ratings for U.S. leadership may change as Gallup completes its 2021 fieldwork in more countries and particularly in the wake of the fallout abroad over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August. However, the substantial gains across so many countries halfway through 2021 make it unlikely that the final rating for Biden's first year in office could retreat to his predecessor's levels.

The Trump administration claimed a few foreign policy successes in its final year, such as striking a peace deal with the Taliban to bring the then 18-year war in Afghanistan to a close and brokering normalization of relations between Israel and a number of Arab states.

But missed opportunities to engage with the rest of the world during all four years -- particularly during the pandemic -- likely overshadowed any potential goodwill and help explain the 30% approval rating at the end of Trump's term.

In the first few hours of his presidency, Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and halted Trump's decision to leave the World Health Organization. And, in his first foreign policy speech as president, Biden vowed to repair U.S. alliances through diplomacy and restore the image of the U.S.

These words and actions likely reassured many longtime U.S. allies and the international community at large and may have contributed to the surge in approval ratings across most of the 46 countries and territories surveyed through the first half of 2021.

Substantial Gains, No Major Losses in the Trump-to-Biden Transition

Approval ratings of U.S. leadership increased substantially -- by 10 percentage points or more -- between 2020 and 2021 in 36 of the 46 countries and territories surveyed through the first half of the year.

Ratings improved the most -- by at least 40 points -- among several European allies, including Portugal (52 points), the Netherlands (45 points), Norway (42 points) and Sweden (41 points).


Heat map. Map showing changes in approval ratings of U.S. leadership in 46 countries from 2020 to 2021. Ratings rose in 36.

Importantly, the U.S. also regained ground among the countries in the G7, with ratings rising 38 points in Canada, 36 points in Germany, 30 in the United Kingdom, 22 points in Italy, 18 points in France and 11 points in Japan.

Ratings of U.S. leadership headed in a negative direction in just three countries -- Russia, Serbia and Benin. Approval ratings in Russia slipped five percentage points, and ratings were down four points in both Serbia and Benin.

Leadership Ratings of the U.S. So Far in 2021
Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?
% Approve % Disapprove % Don't know/Refused Change from 2020
Portugal 64% 19% 17% 52
Netherlands 63% 35% 2% 45
Norway 54% 42% 4% 42
Sweden 52% 41% 7% 41
Canada 55% 41% 4% 38
Germany 42% 55% 3% 36
Iceland 40% 38% 22% 35
Austria 42% 50% 8% 33
Finland 52% 42% 6% 32
Denmark 45% 42% 13% 31
Greece 51% 36% 13% 30
Ireland 50% 47% 3% 30
United Kingdom 45% 52% 3% 30
South Korea 59% 28% 13% 29
Switzerland 37% 58% 5% 27
Spain 41% 53% 5% 24
Malta 50% 32% 18% 24
Colombia 65% 23% 12% 23
Australia 51% 45% 4% 22
New Zealand 48% 47% 5% 22
Italy 41% 55% 4% 22
Poland 51% 32% 17% 21
Cyprus 38% 33% 29% 19
Slovakia 32% 45% 23% 19
Estonia 33% 36% 31% 18
France 36% 53% 11% 18
Taiwan, Province of China 45% 20% 35% 17
Mali 76% 14% 10% 17
Philippines 71% 23% 6% 16
Bolivia 44% 38% 18% 14
Kenya 67% 23% 10% 14
Ukraine 37% 30% 33% 13
Zimbabwe 63% 24% 13% 13
Latvia 29% 33% 38% 12
Romania 44% 20% 36% 12
Japan 50% 29% 21% 11
Bulgaria 40% 35% 25% 8
Cameroon 69% 16% 15% 7
Mauritius 57% 32% 11% 7
Hungary 41% 26% 33% 6
Croatia 24% 42% 34% 3
Congo 69% 16% 15% 2
Serbia 16% 64% 20% -4
Benin 50% 16% 34% -4
Russian Federation 13% 78% 9% -5
Sierra Leone 64% 7% 29% *
Ranked by change
Gallup World Poll, 2021

Germany's Leadership Sets a New High Bar for Approval

In addition to asking about U.S. leadership each year, Gallup also asks the world about the leadership of other global powers, including Germany, China and Russia.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's likely last full year in office ended differently from Trump's. Germany not only remained the top-rated global power for the fourth year in a row, but it also broke all previous records. In 2020, median approval of Germany's leadership across 108 countries and territories stood at a record-high 52%.


Line graph. Trend line for global approval ratings of the leadership of the U.S., Germany, Russia and China from 2007 through 2020.

The approval ratings of the U.S., China and Russia continued to cluster together in the lower 30s in 2020. However, Russia, for the first time, edged out both the U.S. and China, with a median approval rating of 34%. China and the U.S. tied for last place, with median approval ratings of 30%. China's rating in 2020 was not much different from the 32% in 2019 and in line with measures over the past several years.

Gallup will publish an update on how all four countries looked in the eyes of the world in early 2022.


With the Trump administration in the rearview mirror, Biden's early efforts to restore alliances and respect for the U.S. on the world stage appeared to be paying off in the first six months of his presidency. But what happens in the next six months -- and in the aftermath of the quick U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan -- may set the tone and position of the U.S. for the rest of his presidency.

The world -- particularly Europe -- will also be watching Germany as Merkel steps down. While a new chancellor has yet to be named as of mid-October, Merkel's likely successor, Olaf Scholz, is in the unenviable position of following in the footsteps of the most popular leader in recent history.

Read more about how the world sees the leadership of the U.S., Germany, Russia and China in the latest 2021 Rating World Leaders report.

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