- Cullman, Alabama

National News

March 13, 2013

Poll: World Takes Dimmer View of U.S. Leadership

WASHINGTON — American leadership received poorer marks around the world last year than at any time since President Barack Obama was elected, according to a survey being released Wednesday.

The slide recorded by the annual Gallup poll suggests that Obama has lost some of the global goodwill his agenda and unusual political biography inspired abroad.

The 41 percent median approval rating was higher than the 34 percent at the close of the George W. Bush administration, according to the survey. But it was down from a high of 49 percent in 2009, Obama's first year in office.

The erosion highlights difficulties in several areas that will be key to the president's foreign policy plans for his second term. In nuclear-armed Pakistan, regarded as crucial to the stability of Afghanistan once U.S. troops depart next year, 79 percent of respondents said they have a negative view of U.S. leadership.

The disapproval is nearly as high, 77 percent, in the Palestinian territories, where Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry hope to make progress toward an independent Palestinian state. The two are scheduled to visit Israel and the West Bank later this month to begin that work.

"One of the challenges is that President Obama came in with really high expectations," said Jon Clifton, the project director at Gallup.

Although people worldwide may think Obama is doing a good job overall, they may still be disappointed when measuring his record against their expectations, Clifton said. The median approval rate has dropped a bit each year of Obama's presidency, slipping from 46 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2012.

The survey began in 2005, at the start of Bush's second term. Global approval of U.S. leadership had dipped to a median of 34 percent in 2008, the last year of Bush's presidency.

The survey of 130 countries, called the U.S.-Global Leadership Track, describes itself as the largest global public opinion study of views about U.S. leadership. The Pew Research Center does a smaller survey, which recorded similar results last June.

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