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Politics

Polls: US Image Abroad Has Rebounded Since Biden Took Office

The United States' image around the world has improved sharply since President Joe Biden took office, according to new surveys conducted in 16 countries, including many long-standing allies of the U.S.

The Pew Research Center surveys show majorities of the citizens across the countries — more than 6 in 10 in each — express confidence in Biden to "do the right thing" in world affairs.

Biden arrived in Britain on Wednesday on the first leg of his first overseas trip, hoping to reestablish the United States' global standing and reinforce partnerships with key European allies. 

Favorable ratings of the U.S. have started to rebound after declining considerably during Donald Trump's four years as president, growing as much as 30 percentage points since last year in partner nations like France and Germany. In 2020, positive views of the U.S. reached or neared low points in these two countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.

In France, for example, 65% now have a favorable view of the U.S., up from 31% last year. No more than half in France rated the U.S. positively during Trump's presidency, but at least 6 in 10 had during each of Barack Obama's eight years as president.

And 74% of the public in France say they have confidence in Biden, a Democrat, to do the right thing regarding world affairs, compared with just 11% saying that for Trump, a Republican, last year. Across 12 countries surveyed in both 2020 and 2021, the gap in confidence in the two presidents is at least 40 percentage points — in Biden's favor in all 12.

Biden seeks to reaffirm to allies his commitment to the U.S. role abroad, which stands in contrast to Trump's "America First" approach. Biden will initially meet with Group of Seven leaders before continuing on to Brussels for a NATO summit, a meeting with heads of the European Union and several face-to-face meetings with other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Even as the U.S. global standing is rosier among the citizens of these nations around the world, Biden faces challenges as he looks to transition the U.S. out of the Trump era. The surveys find many nations skeptical of the U.S., both as a global partner and as a functioning democracy. 

No more than 2 in 10 across the 16 countries say the U.S. is a "very" reliable partner, with majorities in most calling the U.S. "somewhat" reliable. In Canada, France, Spain and Greece, roughly a third say the U.S. is not reliable as a global partner.

Germany is the only nation surveyed where a majority say relations with the U.S. will improve in the next few years. Across most other countries, more think the relationship will stay the same rather than get better.

The state of U.S. democracy also earns mixed reviews around the world. In Canada, for example, 6 in 10 say the political system in the U.S. does not work well, as do about two-thirds of Australians and New Zealanders. About 4 in 10 in France and Spain say the U.S. democracy is working poorly, compared with slim majorities who say it does work at least somewhat well. In Germany and the U.K., people are closely divided.

And majorities across most of the 16 countries say the U.S. democracy "used to be a good example, but has not been in recent years."

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