Polls show America’s overseas image is sliding dramatically
Associated Press Writer
LONDON (AP) – America’s popularity around the world has taken a beating in recent years, according to a set of coordinated polls conducted in 10 different countries. But the survey also found that despite widespread animosity toward President Bush, huge majorities said they have a good opinion of Americans.
“We like Americans, we don’t like Bush,” was how Britain’s Guardian newspaper summarized the results of the surveys published Friday.
The polls found that to an overwhelming degree, respondents in most of the countries have a more negative view of the United States now than a few years ago, disapprove of the war in Iraq and dislike Bush. Democratic challenger John Kerry is favored – often by landslide proportions – in all but two of the nations.
But even in France, often seen as a bastion of anti-Americanism, 72 percent said they had a favorable view of Americans, compared to 24 percent with an unfavorable opinion, the poll found.
The polls, commissioned by major papers in each country, were conducted in Canada, France, Britain, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, Israel and Russia. Not all questions were asked in every country.
On average, 57 percent said they had a worse opinion of the United States than two to three years ago, compared to 20 percent who said they had a higher opinion now. That question was asked each country except Russia.
In eight of the nations, more people said their view of America had worsened than improved. Seventy-four percent of Japanese, 70 percent of French, 67 percent of South Koreans, 64 percent of Canadians and 60 percent of Spaniards said they had a lower opinion of America now than a few years ago.
Only in Israel – whose prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has won strong backing from Bush – did more people say their view of the United States had improved than worsened, by a margin of 40 percent to 26 percent.
Americans – the people, not the government – can feel well-loved, maybe because foreigners so happily soak up U.S. movies, TV and music and frequent McDonald’s and Starbucks.
Overall, 68 percent of those questioned said they had a favorable opinion of Americans, compared to 23 percent with a negative view.
Eighty-six percent of Russians, 81 percent of Israelis, 74 percent of Japanese and 73 percent of Canadians reported positive views of Americans. The lowest figure was in Spain, where 47 percent said they had a positive view and 32 percent negative.
In nine countries, huge majorities said they had an unfavorable opinion of Bush, whom critics accuse of conducting a unilateralist foreign policy that disregards the views of other nations, even close friends.
The president may not be bothered by the results – he says he makes decisions for the good of America even if they make him unpopular overseas.
People in all 10 countries were asked who they hoped to see win the White House Nov. 2. Kerry was favored in eight of the nations including France, where 72 percent supported him compared to 16 percent for Bush.
In South Korea, it was 68 percent for Kerry and 18 percent for Bush; in Canada, 60 percent to 20 percent; in Spain, 58 percent to 13 percent; 54 percent to 28 percent in Australia and 50 percent to 22 percent in Britain.
Bush came out on top in Israel by a margin of 50 percent to 24 percent and in Russia, 52 percent to 48 percent.
On Iraq, 68 percent of people – majorities in seven out of eight countries – said the U.S. was wrong to invade, while 25 percent thought war was the right decision.
In an Associated Press poll this fall, a majority surveyed in eight countries said they believed the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism. Just over half of respondents in the United States and two-thirds or more of respondents in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain said they believed Iraq has increased the terrorist threat, according to the AP-Ipsos polls.
The newspapers involved in the polling published Friday were La Presse in Canada, Le Monde in France, the Guardian in Britain, El Pais in Spain, Asahi Shimbun in Japan, JoongAng Ilbo in South Korea, the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age in Australia, Reforma in Mexico, Haaretz in Israel and the Moscow News in Russia.
The sample sizes in the 10 polls varied from 522 people in Israel to 1,417 in Australia. Margins of error were mostly around 3 percentage points, but varied between 2.6 percent and 4.38 percent. The polls were conducted on different dates from September through early October.