Obama’s eight-year presidency rated well, shows global poll for BBC World Service

Global support for President Obama appears to have lasted through his two terms in office, according to a new poll for the BBC World Service.

Any US President would be very happy with such positive global ratings near the end of their tenure
Doug Miller, GlobeScan Chairman

Over seven in ten citizens across 18 tracking countries polled by Globescan in both 2012 and 2016 think that, retrospectively, the election of US President Barack Obama was a good choice. The most recent poll shows his average approval rating is 72 per cent – stable with the result from the 2012 BBC poll (when Obama was running for a second term) when 73 per cent had a favourable opinion of his first presidency.

The most recent poll, conducted by GlobeScan among more than 18,000 people worldwide between December 2015 and May 2016 asked the public to reflect on whether or not, in hindsight, they felt the choice of the American people to elect Obama in 2008 and again in 2012 was a good or a bad choice. A majority in 18 out of the 19* countries surveyed leaned positively towards Obama’s double tenure in the White House, with only Russians disagreeing.

Kenyans are the most upbeat towards Obama’s presidential tenure, with 95 per cent thinking his double election was a good choice. The other countries with a very strong pro-Obama sentiment include some of the USA’s closest allies: South Korea (93 per cent, up 10 points from 2012), the UK (91 per cent, up 9 points), France (90 per cent, stable), Australia (89 per cent, stable), and Canada (85 per cent, stable).

In some countries where the relationship with Washington may have been more ambivalent at times, the proportion of supporters of Obama’s time in office has also increased, with majorities now found in Turkey (52 per cent, up 6 points), Pakistan (56 per cent, up 7 points), and China (54 per cent, up 5 points). The other two countries where support had fallen are Nigeria (88 per cent to 74 per cent) and Ghana (78 per cent to 70 per cent).

Positive sentiment towards Obama has nonetheless declined in five countries since 2012. In particular, Russian public opinion has shifted from a pro to a now strongly anti-Obama sentiment. Only 18 per cent of Russians feel Obama’s eight-year time in office was a good choice in hindsight, as opposed to a majority of 51 per cent in 2012, and they are outnumbered by 73 per cent who now think this was a bad choice. In Germany, approval of Obama has also dropped sharply, from 91 per cent in 2012 to 53 per cent in 2016, with an increase in the proportion of people with an undecided opinion of the president (jumping from 2 per cent to 29 per cent). In the US itself, whose views are not included in the global average, a majority remains pro-Obama after his two terms, though narrower than in 2012 (53 per cent today, down 5 points).

Amid the race for the US primaries to nominate the two candidates that will campaign to replace President Obama in January 2017, the poll also asked if the election of a woman as the next American President would impact views the public holds towards the United States as a country.

Globally, results show that a solid plurality of 48 per cent in 17 countries agree that a female president would fundamentally change their perceptions of the US (against 38 per cent who disagree). This resembles results from a similarly-worded 2008 BBC poll question which asked the impact if Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president on respondents’ impression of the US. Though the poll does not specify whether this would be positively or negatively, it is noteworthy that the effect of a female president on external perceptions of the US would be strongest in developing countries, and particularly so among female respondents in China (74 per cent), Nigeria and Peru (both 65 per cent), and Indonesia and Kenya (both 54 per cent).

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “Any US President would be very happy with such positive global ratings near the end of their tenure.”

BBC PRESS RELEASE

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