Trump won election by promising to shake things up and — mission accomplished. Polling just released from Gallup, though, suggests that Americans see the dawn of the Trump era as eroding, not improving, the country’s position in the world.
Ever since the advent of the war in Iraq, Americans have been dissatisfied with our position in the world. At the tail end of the administration of Bill Clinton and through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, during the George W. Bush presidency, Americans were happy with how the United States was positioned.
On that metric, Trump is simply inheriting the weakened position that two terms of Barack Obama did nothing to improve.
Where Obama was successful was on how Americans thought the rest of the world saw us. After 9/11, Americans were confident that we were viewed favorably. The Iraq War gutted that, though it recovered under Obama. With the advent of Trump, those positions have flipped.
America’s sense of how it’s viewed by the rest of the world is at the lowest point since 2007 — near the height of dissatisfaction with Bush and the war.
There’s a clear link between favorability of the president and belief in how that president and the world are viewed. The dip in how the United States is viewed is “fueled by a precipitous slide among Democrats now that a Republican president is in office,” Gallup’s Art Swift writes.
The shift from Obama is most stark when looking at perceptions of how the president himself is viewed by foreign leaders. Americans rated Obama better on this toward the tail end of his second term — just as they viewed him more favorably over that same period. With a new, unpopular president, Americans sense that foreign leaders have similarly changed their assessments of America’s leadership.
How much of this is linked to Trump’s early shakiness and how much is tied to his low favorability is hard to separate out. This is one of those things that it will be worth tracking over the long term. So far, though, Americans don’t seem to think that Trump is on track to make America great again on the world stage.