Poll: Only Israel and Russia prefer Trump to Obama
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81 percent of Israeli respondents have positive view of current US leadership; only Israel and Jordan want US to quit Iran nuke deal

Poll: Only Israel and Russia prefer Trump to Obama

Pew survey of 37 countries finds plummeting global confidence in US leadership's ability to handle international affairs

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump waves to the press after escorting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his car on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 26, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)
US President Donald Trump waves to the press after escorting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his car on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 26, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

WASHINGTON — Israel is one of just two countries that prefer US President Donald Trump to his predecessor, Barack Obama, according to new research by the Pew Research Center.

The poll — which looked at 37 countries — found that Trump is not only deeply unpopular in much of the world, but not trusted to manage America’s foreign policy.

According to the survey, a median of 22 percent of respondents expressed confidence that Trump will do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. That rating marks a steep drop from the closing years of Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64 expressed confidence in his ability to direct America’s role in the world.

“The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the US president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada,” Pew said. “Across the 37 nations polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel.”

In Russia, Trump is more popular now than either of his two immediate predecessors ever were, the survey found.

In Israel, 81 percent of respondents said they currently had a “positive view” of American leadership, although Pew noted that Israelis’ attitudes about US presidents have usually varied.

US President Barack Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum on March 22, 2013, in Jerusalem, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images/JTA)
US President Barack Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum on March 22, 2013, in Jerusalem, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images/JTA)

Israel confidence in Obama, for instance, ranged from from 49% to 71% in Pew’s polling during his administration, which found his ratings take a hit in between 2014 and 2015, while he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an intense and prolonged spat over the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s current ratings are now higher in Israel than Obama’s were during the final two years of his presidency.

Trump’s first international trip as president included several stops in the Middle East — in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank — for which he received high praise from both Arab and Israeli leaders.

That trip drew a sharp contrast to when Obama made his first presidential excursion to the region in 2009, when he visited Saudi Arabia, delivered his landmark address to the Muslim world in Cairo, but skipped Israel.

The Jewish state also stood out in Pew’s new polling in another way: It was one of only four countries sampled where a majority of respondents expressed support for Trump’s revised travel ban.

The proposal seeks to bar people from entering the country from six Muslim-majority countries. The other three countries where majorities support it are Hungary, Poland and Russia.

The ban — which came in an executive order — had been blocked by lower courts, but on Monday, the Supreme Court permitted a limited version of it to take effect until it rules on its constitutional merits. It will hear the case in October.

Israel was also one of just two countries — the other being Jordan — where majorities support US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, which rolls back sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

Trump repeatedly pledged on the campaign trail to dismantle the deal, but has refrained from doing so since taking office.

In terms of personal traits, more than half of the poll’s overall respondents see the US president as a strong leader, but that positive view is outweighed by larger majorities who describe the former reality TV star as arrogant, intolerant or dangerous.

Pew has produced this survey annually since 2002, starting with the first term of George W. Bush. The edition released late Monday is the first conducted since Trump took office in January.

The results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted among 40,447 respondents in 37 countries in all regions of the world between February 16 and May 8.

AP contributed to this report.

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