Politics

Americans’ Rating of United Nations Improved, but Still Low

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Thirty-one percent of Americans say United Nations is doing a good job

PRINCETON, NJ -- Thirty-one percent of Americans say the United Nations is doing a good job of solving the problems it has had to face, according to the Feb. 1-3 Gallup World Affairs poll. While still a negative review, the current U.N. rating is a significant improvement over last year's 26% and the best since 2005.

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Gallup first asked Americans to assess the job the United Nations is doing in 1953. Americans have never held the United Nations in particularly high esteem, with a historical average of 40% saying it is doing a good job. The all-time high rating was 58% in 2002 shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks produced a rally in Americans' support for government institutions.

"Americans' views of the United Nations have been particularly dour in recent years, coinciding with the U.S. military action in Iraq that began in March 2003."

Americans' views of the United Nations have been particularly dour in recent years, coinciding with the U.S. military action in Iraq that began in March 2003. The U.S. government sought United Nations backing for the action, but ultimately the United States and its allies invaded Iraq without U.N. support when it was clear a U.N. resolution authorizing military action in Iraq would not pass. Since 2003, an average of 32% of Americans has said the United Nations is doing a good job, including last year's historical low of 26%.

The new Gallup poll finds Democrats (45%) are twice as likely as Republicans (22%) to evaluate the United Nations positively. At 25%, independents' views are nearly the same as those of Republicans.

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Since last year, Democrats' ratings have improved the most, from 34% to 45%, and most of the improvement in the United Nations' image is due to higher ratings from Democrats. Positive ratings from independents (from 22% to 25%) and Republicans (from 20% to 22%) ratings are also up, but not to a meaningful degree.

Additionally, young adults give the United Nations a much more positive evaluation than older Americans. The poll finds 51% of 18- to 29-year-olds saying the United Nations is doing a good job, while fewer than 30% in the older age groups do.

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Higher ratings of the United Nations from young adults has been the norm in recent years, though the current rating from 18- to 29-year-olds is the highest Gallup has measured since 2004 (53%).

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,025 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 1-3, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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