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The Biden Boost: U.S. Bounces Back From Record Low Global Approval Rating

The Biden Boost: U.S. Bounces Back From Record Low Global Approval Rating

A new Gallup report shows that as of early August 2021, the median approval of U.S. leadership across 46 countries and territories stood at 49%, up from the 30% median approval at the end of Donald Trump’s administration and matching the rating during former President Barack Obama’s first year in office in 2009. Just six months into Joe Biden’s presidency, approval of U.S. leadership around the world has largely rebounded from the record-low ratings observed during the Trump administration.

In the first few hours of his presidency, Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and halted Trump’s decision to leave the World Health Organization. And, in his first foreign policy speech in office, President Biden vowed to repair U.S. alliances through diplomacy and restore the image of the U.S. These words and actions likely reassured many longtime U.S. allies and the international community at large and may have contributed to the surge in approval ratings across most of the 46 countries and territories surveyed through the first half of 2021.

However, while the approval rating so far under the Biden administration compares favorably with ratings during the Obama administration, the 36% disapproval rating is also higher than any of those under Obama. Still, disapproval under Biden is seven percentage points lower than the final disapproval rating under Trump — a record-high 44%.

Approval ratings of U.S. leadership increased substantially — by 10 percentage points or more — between 2020 and 2021 in 36 of the 46 countries and territories surveyed through the first half of the year. Ratings improved the most — by at least 40 points — among several European allies, including Portugal (52 points), the Netherlands (45 points), Norway (42 points), and Sweden (41 points).

With the Trump administration in the rearview mirror, Biden’s early efforts to restore alliances and respect for the U.S. on the world stage appeared to be paying off in the first six months of his presidency. But what happens in the next six months — and in the aftermath of the quick U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan — may set the tone and position of the U.S. for the rest of his presidency. The world — particularly Europe — will also be watching Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel steps down. While a new chancellor has yet to be named as of mid-October, Merkel’s likely successor, Olaf Scholz, is in the unenviable position of following in the footsteps of the most popular leader in recent history.

 

The global approval ratings for U.S. leadership may change as Gallup completes its 2021 fieldwork in more countries and particularly in the wake of the fallout abroad over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August. However, the substantial gains across so many countries halfway through 2021 make it unlikely that the final rating for Biden’s first year in office could retreat to his predecessor’s levels.

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