France's Favorable Rating in U.S. Zooms to 87%, a New High

France's Favorable Rating in U.S. Zooms to 87%, a New High
by Lydia Saad

Story Highlights

  • France's favorable rating rises five points in past year to 87%
  • Increase in recent years driven by improved ratings from Republicans
  • France now Americans' third-highest-rated country

PRINCETON, N.J. -- France's favorable rating in the U.S. is now 87%, up five percentage points from a year ago and marking a record high for France in Gallup's 25-year trend. This continues the gradual improvement in France's image in the U.S. after that nation's favorability plummeted at the start of the Iraq War in 2003.

Americans' Overall Opinion of France, 1991-2016

This year's reading comes three months after terrorists associated with the Islamic State group conducted a series of deadly attacks in and around Paris, killing 130. The 82% of Americans viewing France favorably a year ago was recorded a month after terrorists killed 12 people in a mass shooting at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office building in Paris.

The latest results are from Gallup's Feb. 3-7 World Affairs poll.

France now ranks third in overall favorability with Americans among major countries the U.S. interacts with on the world stage. Only Great Britain and Canada earned higher total favorable scores this year. However, France still falls well short of those countries in the percentage of Americans viewing each very favorably. Its 29% "very favorable" score this year is similar to the 30% for Germany, which places fourth in overall favorability, but still trails Great Britain's 43% and Canada's 56%.

Top Five Countries in Americans' Favorability Ratings in 2016

Republicans' Rating Rises Most Since 2013

France's image fell much more steeply among Republicans than Democrats at the start of the Iraq War in 2003, stemming from that nation's opposition to Republican President George W. Bush's effort to win U.N. support for use of force against Iraq. Between February 2002 and March 2003, Republicans' favorability toward France dropped more than 60 points, from 81% to 20%, versus a 34-point decline among Democrats, from 79% to 45%.

A sizable partisan gap in France's ratings persisted throughout the first decade of its image recovery, but during the past three years, the gap has nearly closed. That reflects Republicans' finally closing in on Democrats' high level of favorability toward France. This may be the result of France's support for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Syria in 2013, as well as sympathy for France stemming from the recent terrorist attacks.

Trend: Americans' Overall View of France, by Party ID -- % Very/Mostly Favorable

Bottom Line

After diplomatic differences in 2003 soured relations between the two countries, France and the U.S. have found a common interest in combating international terrorism, and the mission has become personal for both countries. This has helped bring about a major turnaround in how Americans view what Secretary of State John Kerry has called the United States' "oldest ally." France's image was already on the mend, but the significant increase in the percentage of Republicans viewing France favorably over the past three years has pushed its image to new heights.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 3-7, 2016, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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