FACT CHECK: Has Global Approval Of The US ‘Plummeted’ Under Trump?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said that international approval of the U.S. has “plummeted” under President Donald Trump.

Verdict: True

Surveys that measure global attitudes toward the U.S. report that most countries showed a decline in approval of the U.S. and its leadership in 2017, though some countries showed an uptick.

Fact Check:

Sanders expressed his disappointment with the global image of the U.S. on “Anderson Cooper 360” Monday. “It saddens me very much to see all over the world, they do a poll, they do international polls and they ask people all over the world, what do you think of the United States of America? We used to be very, very high up,” Sanders said.

He blamed Trump for the decline. “And now, that international feeling, that approval has plummeted under Trump because people see a regime, an administration right here in the United States that is not standing up what has historically been what the United States is supposed to be about, that is support for democracy, support for human rights, support for the oppressed all over the world,” Sanders said.

Polls from the Pew Research Center and Gallup show a decline in international approval of the U.S. or its leadership in most countries in 2017, the first year of Trump’s presidency. In some countries, the drop was drastic.

Pew measures country-by-country favorability of the U.S. in general. Its global indicators database does not have U.S. favorability data for all the 64 countries it lists, but of those that have data for either 2016 and 2017 or 2015 and 2017, favorability ratings have dropped in most countries.

Of the 17 countries for which Pew has data for both 2016 and 2017, 14 showed a decline in U.S. favorability. Greece, Hungary and Nigeria viewed the U.S. more favorably. On average, favorability ratings in the 17 countries fell from 62 percent in 2016 to 50 percent in 2017.

Pew has U.S. favorability data for more countries – 31 – for both 2015 and 2017. Comparing those figures shows a similar trend. Only three countries (Jordan, Russia and Vietnam) had a more favorable view of the U.S. in 2017 than in 2015, and Israel remained unchanged at 81 percent. The average favorability rating fell from 65 percent to 51 percent.

Gallup polls also show record low approval and record high disapproval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries. Median approval fell 18 points from 48 percent in 2016 to 30 percent in 2017, and median disapproval rose 15 points from 28 percent to 43 percent.

U.S. leadership approval ratings dropped substantially among key allies in Europe: 28 points in France, 26 points in the U.K. and 21 points in Germany. Portugal showed the sharpest drop at 51 points. Gallup noted, however, that “none of the current lower approval ratings in Europe is a new record low – many ratings were similar if not worse during the last two Bush years.”

Approval of U.S. leadership rose in 29 countries from 2016 to 2017, and by double digits in four of those: Belarus, Israel, Macedonia and Liberia.

Gallup started measuring international attitudes toward U.S. leadership annually in 2007. Median approval of U.S. leadership was 38 percent in 2007 and 34 percent in 2008, at the end of President George W. Bush’s last term, and remained in the 40s during President Barack Obama’s tenure. It peaked at 49 percent in 2009.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter