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America's global image under Biden skyrockets compared to Trump, survey finds

A median of 75 percent of respondents from 12 countries expressed confidence in Biden, compared with 17 percent for Trump in 2020.
Image: Joe Biden
Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally in Coconut Creek, Fla., on Oct. 29, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

America’s reputation on the global stage appears to have significantly rebounded since former President Donald Trump left office and President Joe Biden became the commander in chief, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday.

As Biden is in Europe attempting to repair relations with America's allies, the poll found that several countries in the region like the current president more than the former. A median of 75 percent of respondents in 12 countries expressed confidence in Biden, compared with 17 percent for Trump last year, according to the survey.

In the United Kingdom, for example, 64 percent of those surveyed said they view the U.S. favorably, up from just 41 percent under Trump.

Similar favorability improvements of 25 percentage points or more were found in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, the survey found.

Of the 16,254 people in 16 countries surveyed in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region between March and May, more than 60 percent in each country said they have confidence in Biden to "do the right thing in world affairs."

Biden arrived Wednesday in Britain for a series of meetings with world leaders intent on stressing the message of his first foreign trip as president: "The United States is back."

"Our alliances weren't built by coercion or maintained by threats. They're grounded in democratic ideals, a shared vision of the future, where every voice matters," Biden said after landing in the U.K.

Majorities in each country surveyed gave Biden positive marks. Overall, a median of 74 percent has confidence in Biden to "do the right thing in world affairs," according to Pew.

Pew conducted the survey in 12 to 16 countries depending on the questions. They include: Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan.

The study found that in the 16 countries polled, however, many still view the U.S. as a “somewhat reliable partner.” No more than 20 percent of respondents in any one country said the U.S. is a “very reliable partner.” Reliability is highest in the Netherlands, where 80 percent say the U.S. is somewhat or very reliable. Seventy-five percent of respondents in Australia and Japan both said the U.S. is somewhat or very reliable. But 44 percent in Taiwan and 43 percent in Greece said the U.S. is not very or not at all reliable, the survey found.

However, attitudes toward the U.S. still vary in different countries. For example, only about 50 percent of people in Singapore and Australia have a favorable opinion of the U.S., and only 42 percent of New Zealanders like the U.S., according to the survey. Favorability in Taiwan is down slightly from 68 percent to 61 percent, compared to a 2019 Pew survey.

Biden is expected to reassure America’s allies that democracy is strong in the U.S. during his trip, which comes months after global audiences and foreign leaders raised questions about its government following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. However, a median of only 50 percent of respondents said in the Pew survey that they believe American democracy is working well.

The survey noted, however, that attitudes toward the U.S. ebbs and flows as administrations change.

Pew noted that when former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, favorability increased compared to George W. Bush’s administration. Similarly, when Trump entered the White House in 2017, favorability saw a sharp decline. For instance, a median of 34 percent of those surveyed across 12 nations had a favorable overall opinion of the U.S. last year, the survey found. Now, a median of 62 percent of nations hold the U.S. in glowing regard.

CORRECTION (June 10, 2021, 11:15 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the percentage of U.K. survey respondents who held favorable views of the U.S. in 2020. Pew Research Center found that 41 percent of respondents held that view, not 31 percent.