At a time when he is navigating several delicate foreign negotiations and conflicts abroad, President Obama is taking a hit on an important metric: how Americans believe he is viewed by foreign leaders.
For the first time in Mr. Obama’s presidency, more believe he is not respected by world leaders. Fifty-three percent say he’s not respected while just 41 percent of Americans who responded to a Gallup survey believe the president is respected abroad.
When he took in 2009, just 20 percent believed he wasn’t respected on the world stage. As recently as last year, 43 percent thought he wasn’t respected by world leaders.
Although Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have hovered in the 40s for most of his presidency – at times dipping into the high 30s – his perceived approval among world leaders has held steady at just above 50 percent since 2011 after coming down from the initial highs.
His biggest hit has been among Democrats and independents, with the percent of each group believing he is respected abroad declining by 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from last year. Republicans who believe foreign leaders do not approve of the president have held roughly steady in the mid-70 percent range.
Still, 51 percent of people believe the U.S. is viewed favorably abroad. It’s not the highest number of Mr. Obama’s presidency – that was 55 percent in 2013 – but it’s still above a low mark of 43 percent when he took office. The percentage of people who believe he is viewed favorably is also higher than what former President George W. Bush received. He hit a low of 21 percent in 2007.
What changed? Since the change seems to have to do more Americans’ perceptions of how world leaders view the U.S., not just other nations, Gallup suggests it could be related to “a series of tense moments in the past year between Obama and prominent foreign leaders,” which was largely the result of revelations that the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on other heads of state.