President Trump is attending the opening of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York City this week for the first time.1 On Monday, he’ll host an event to discuss reforms to the organization, and on Tuesday he’ll make his first formal address to the body. The world isn’t just watching; this time they’re Trump’s target audience. So what does the world think of Trump?
Our best information on global public opinion toward Trump comes from the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes & Trends annual survey. Since 2000, Pew typically has asked approximately 1,000 residents each in a variety of countries for their views on the U.S., the U.S. president, other world leaders and several issues.2 We compared the results for the past three years for two questions: Whether respondents have a favorable view of the U.S., and whether they have confidence in the current U.S. president to “do the right thing regarding world affairs.”3
Two patterns jump out. First, since Trump took office, confidence in the president has gone down further, on average, than favorability toward the U.S.: Confidence dropped 47 percentage points; U.S. favorability just 13 points. Since 2005, perceptions of the U.S. have changed less than those of the president.4
Second, while respondents’ views of both America and the president have decreased in the past year, the drops are not uniform. Some of the biggest declines have been in countries with whom the U.S. has a collective defense agreement, such as NATO members and Japan, especially when it comes to confidence in the president. Mexico, unsurprisingly, also saw a big public opinion drop on both questions. On the other hand, public favorability toward the U.S. has gone up in Russia, and public confidence in the president has gone up in both Israel and Russia since Trump took office.5
Overall, though, Trump has brought a return to George W. Bush-era levels of favorability for the U.S. and the presidency.6
What about the actual content of what Trump will say at the U.N.? Beyond U.N. reforms, other major issues on the international agenda are North Korea, Syria, terrorism and climate change. In its 2017 survey, Pew asked respondents whether they approve or disapprove of five of Trump’s specific policies, some of which track with U.N. priorities.
Foreign publics generally do not approve of any of the five policies, but the idea of withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran agreement drew the least disapproval, at an average global net approval of -15.7 percent. Trump’s plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to withdraw from major trade agreements were almost universally disliked (average net approval of -50.5 and -49.7 percent, respectively).7
CORRECTION (Sept. 19, 4:55 p.m.): A previous version of the third chart in this article, showing the net approval rating of President Trump’s proposed policies, mislabeled Israel, Germany and Russia. The chart has been updated.