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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 03/31/2009


As Barack Obama heads out on his first European trip as president, more than six in 10 Americans approve of the way he's handling international affairs, and over four in 10 think the country's image abroad has already improved under the new administration.

The perceived turnaround in America's image in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll - 43 percent think it's gotten better, 14 worse and 42 stayed about the same - is something Obama and his team are banking on when he sits down at the G-20 meetings in London. Their hope is for a fresh start with European countries on dealing with the financial crisis and international crises like Afghanistan. Last July, most Americans thought the country's image had deteriorated under George W. Bush's watch.

Democrats (59 percent) are much more likely to see a positive shift in overseas opinion, though independents are also more than three times as likely to think the country in higher than lower regard under the new administration. Most Republicans see things about as they were before Obama took office in mid-January.

The results suggest initial progress for Obama in an area where much was expected of him: In a December Post-ABC poll, 77 percent said they thought Obama would be able to improve the U.S. image abroad, with majorities across party lines saying so.

In terms of his handling of international affairs more broadly, on that, the new poll finds 85 percent approval among Democrats, 58 percent among independents and 36 percent among Republicans.

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Obama on the World Stage

Handling international affairs

U.S. image abroad under Obama

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 03/31/2009

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