Sub-Saharan Africa Leads World in U.S. Approval

by Cynthia English and Julie Ray

Across 110 countries, median approval was 51%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Across 110 countries Gallup surveyed in 2009, median approval of U.S. leadership was 51%, up from 34% in 2008. Approval during President Barack Obama's first year in office topped 75% in 20 sub-Saharan African countries, with Kosovo, Ireland, and Albania joining them as the countries or areas most approving.


These findings summarize all Gallup findings regarding world citizens' views of U.S. leadership collected in 2009. Prior stories have documented results by region and by country, including changes from 2008. With all surveying completed, U.S. leadership approval remained highest in sub-Saharan Africa, as it has been since Gallup began measuring world citizens' views of U.S. leadership in 2005.


Perceptions of U.S. Leadership Improve in Nearly Every Region

Although approval remained relatively low in the Middle East and North Africa as a region, views of U.S. leadership improved in several countries in the first year of the Obama presidency. Still, less than half of respondents approved of the job performance of U.S. leadership in most countries; the few notable exceptions were Israel (61%), Bahrain (55%), and Kuwait (52%). Approval was lowest in Syria (15%).

More than half of residents in the Americas and Europe rated U.S. leadership positively. In the Americas, approval ranged from 40% in Bolivia to 68% in El Salvador. In Europe, approval was highest in Kosovo (88%) and lowest in Serbia (14%). The disparity in sentiment between these two countries is likely attributable to U.S. support for Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

Many in Former Soviet Union Countries, Asia Reserve Judgment

On average, respondents in former Soviet Union countries were the least likely to express an opinion about U.S. leadership. Forty-five percent or more were uncertain in Kazakhstan (45%), Belarus (46%), Russia (47%), and Ukraine (54%). Approval within the region ranges from a high of 61% in Turkmenistan to a low of 20% in Russia.

A significant proportion of respondents in many Asian countries also do not express an opinion about U.S. leadership. More than half of respondents in five Asian countries approved of U.S. leadership: Singapore (68%), Japan (66%), Cambodia (64%), Philippines (58%), and South Korea (58%). Pakistan's 9% approval rating was the lowest in the region and of all countries surveyed; it was the sole country where approval was in the single digits.

Visit Real Clear World's Top 5s feature to learn more about the countries that are most approving of U.S. leadership.

See all U.S. leadership approval ratings across all 110 countries, including differences from 2008, on page 2.

You can also view Gallup's interactive map and prior stories on these data on the World Citizens' Views on U.S. Leadership, Pre- and Post-Obama page.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2009 in 110 countries. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranged from a low of ±2.6 percentage points in India to a high of ±5.7 percentage points in Slovenia. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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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