Image of U.S. leadership poorer than China's
After tumbling to a record-low 30% during the first year of Trump's presidency, the image of the U.S. is still as poor in his second.
The median global approval rating that adults across 133 countries and areas give the job performance of U.S. leadership remained stable at 31% in 2018.
Following a year of epic losses in approval in 2017, when U.S. leadership ratings declined 10 percentage points or more in 65 countries, the dust settled in 2018.
Out of 133 countries, U.S. leadership approval ratings declined substantially in just five countries - Macedonia, Slovakia, Cambodia, Iran and Turkey.
U.S. leadership approval increased 10 points or more in a mix of 11 countries or areas spanning Africa, Asia and the Americas. There were no substantial increases in Europe.
Although the median approval rating for U.S. leadership did not change, the global balance of soft power continued to shift abroad.
Germany securely remained the top-rated global power for the second consecutive year. However, the country's 39% approval rating in 2018 was its first score below 40% in a decade.
China and Russia, on the other hand, gained considerable ground. After tying with the U.S. in 2017, China edged farther ahead of the U.S. in 2018 with its leadership earning a median approval rating of 34%. This is China's highest score since 2009, but it is still well short of its previous highs.
Russia's approval rating rose to 30% in 2018, tying its previous high in 2008 and notably placing the ratings of the U.S. and Russia on nearly equal footing for the first time.
The approval ratings of China's and Russia's leadership rose substantially by at least 10 percentage points or more in more than a dozen countries, while they lost this much ground in relatively only a few. Neither Germany nor the U.S. saw substantial increases in as many countries.
In several instances, China and Russia gained ground last year where the U.S. lost it. For example, while ratings of Russia, China and the U.S. were each at about 30% in Turkey in 2017, China and Russia saw their ratings rise by at least 10 points in 2018, while the U.S. saw its rating drop 13 points. ■