- Majorities of Americans view Prince William, Zelenskyy favorably
- President Biden and former President Trump tie at 41%
- Putin has few advocates, with only 5% rating him favorably
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new Gallup poll suggests the U.S. may need to look beyond its borders to find public figures that a majority of Americans feel good about and that Republicans and Democrats can agree on.
The United Kingdom’s Prince William emerges as the strongest candidate to serve this U.S.-unifying role. His 59% favorable rating from Americans is the highest of 15 prominent figures rated, essentially tied with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at 57%.
None of the other individuals measured in the July 3-27 survey earns majority approval, but first lady Jill Biden is the closest, at 49%. King Charles of the U.K. (46% favorable) and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (43%) are the only others who are viewed more favorably than unfavorably.
President Joe Biden and his possible opponent in the 2024 election, former President Donald Trump, are tied at 41% favorability, while majorities view the president (57%) and former president (55%) unfavorably. Biden’s favorable score closely mirrors his job approval rating. The two metrics have declined from close to 60% when he took office.
Trump’s favorable rating, measured before he was indicted over charges that he engaged in criminal behavior to overturn the 2020 election results, is his highest since November 2020. The increase from 37% last November, the most recent Gallup rating on him before now, spans all indictments issued to date against the former president.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and several key members of Congress, the Biden administration and the Republican primary field are viewed favorably by between 31% to 39% of Americans. However, this group’s unfavorable ratings vary widely, depending on the proportion who have never heard of or otherwise can’t rate each person. The percentages not familiar enough with each to rate them range from 9% for Harris to 37% for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
The least-popular person measured is Russian President Vladimir Putin, with 5% favorable and 90% unfavorable ratings. His favorability is down from 13% in 2017 and 2018 and is the lowest for him in Gallup’s trend that dates to 2002.
As Gallup has previously reported, Roberts’ image has improved since his prior rating eight years ago, while Thomas’ is slightly worse than when it was last measured, in 2005.
The Prince and Zelenskyy Enjoy Bipartisan Support
Behind Putin, who is universally disliked, Prince William is the next-most politically unifying figure in the poll, as more than six in 10 Republicans (65%) and Democrats (63%) view him favorably. His rating from independents is slightly lower, at 54%, at least partly related to independents’ skewing younger than partisans. While William receives majority support from middle-aged and older adults, 38% of those aged 18 to 34 view him favorably, reflecting both relatively high unfavorable and high no opinion ratings from this group.
William is also viewed more favorably by American women (69%) than men (50%). The reasons for this may stretch back to the greater sadness women felt over the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. Memories of her may also explain older Americans’ greater affinity for William.
In addition to Charles’ recent coronation and the Windsor family rift, William has been in the news in his own right for his charitable work, focused primarily on the environment and homelessness.
Zelenskyy’s image is more politically skewed by comparison, with three-quarters of Democrats compared with just over half of Republicans (51%) viewing him favorably. The slight majority of independents (53%) also feel positively toward him.
Republicans’ ambivalence toward Zelenskyy mirrors their views on the Russia-Ukraine war, with half wanting to see the conflict end quickly and the other half supporting Zelenskyy’s goal of fighting for complete victory in reclaiming Ukrainian territory from Russia. By contrast, a strong majority of Democrats and over half of independents support this more ambitious goal.
Back to the royals, although King Charles recently hosted Biden at Windsor Castle in a diplomatic visit, Republicans haven't branded him a political foe. Rather, like William, the British monarch sparks no partisan division, as half of Republicans and 49% of Democrats view him favorably, along with 43% of independents.
Intense Partisanship Around the Presidency
The most politically polarizing figures in the poll are those linked to the U.S. presidency: Joe and Jill Biden, Harris, Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican nomination. More than 60 points separate Republicans’ and Democrats’ favorable ratings of each of these newsmakers.
The other 2024 hopeful rated, former Vice President Mike Pence, is not quite as polarizing; however, this is largely attributable to his subdued 55% favorable score from Republicans, which is down sharply from 81% at the end of his term in January 2021. This decline spans the period in which Pence has publicly criticized Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has thrown his own hat into the ring to compete against Trump for the 2024 nomination. Meanwhile, Pence’s image has declined less sharply among independents and is largely unchanged among Democrats.
Notably, Merrick Garland -- who, as attorney general, leads the Justice Department that issued the federal indictments against Trump -- is viewed favorably by 58% of Democrats versus only 11% of Republicans. However, a large proportion of both party groups are not familiar enough with him to rate him. As a result, his unfavorable rating from Republicans (57%) is much lower than Biden’s and other members of the administration.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence would be surprised to know that nearly 250 years after they sought freedom from the “tyranny” of the British crown, the highest-ranking members of that institution would be more popular in the United States than the nation’s own democratically elected and appointed leaders. Nevertheless, Republicans’ and Democrats’ profoundly different views about today’s political players would not be completely foreign to the founders, echoing bitter 18th century divisions between Tories and Patriots, federalists and anti-federalists, and large and small states.
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