According to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this month, forty-five percent of Americans said they are satisfied with the position of the United States in the world – the highest in over a decade. This number hovered mostly in the 30’s from the last few years of President George W. Bush’s second term all the way through the Obama years. In February 2017, only 32% of Americans felt satisfied with the U.S.’s position, and in February 2016, 36% felt this way.
Not surprisingly, Republicans are pushing the numbers upward this year. Interestingly, more Republicans are satisfied with our position in the world than Democrats were in the later Obama years.
This double-digit bump stands in contrast to another finding from the Gallup poll: only 29% of Americans think other world leaders respect the U.S. President. This number is unchanged from 2017, but has dipped from 45% in 2016, Obama’s last year in office.
Similarly, our own NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in December 2017 found that 28% of Americans feel Trump has made America’s standing in the world better, while 53% say he has made our standing worse and 18% say he has not made much difference one way or the other.
Our last two presidents started out their terms with encouraging numbers but left office with a much smaller percentage of Americans who perceived the president had the respect of other world leaders. The month after George W. Bush’s inauguration, Americans said 49% of world leaders respected him, and in February 2008 that number was 24%. Obama’s rating dipped from 67% in 2009 to 45% in 2016. With time, it’s possible that President Trump could see the opposite effect, with more Americans having a favorable impression of his standing among world leaders as he is in office longer and if America’s economy and standing in the world continues to improve.