(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump’s disdain for certain other countries isn’t much of a secret. His campaign began with an assessment that Mexico was sending criminals across the border into the United States — not the sort of thing that was likely to endear him to the people of that country.

New polling from Gallup shows that, indeed, Mexicans’ opinions of American leadership plunged from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, 44 percent of Mexicans told the pollsters they approved of the job performance of U.S. leaders. In 2017, that fell to 16 percent — a new low for that country.

This pattern held pretty consistently around the world. Globally, perceptions of America’s leadership are the lowest recorded since Gallup began polling on the question in 2007. Between 2016 and 2017, the portion of the world that approved of U.S. leadership fell 18 points. And, for the first time, the portion saying they disapproved outnumbered those who approved.

In countries and regions that Trump has disparaged directly, that’s clearly the case.

Consider other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Trump disparaged the people of Haiti as unwelcome in the United States, reportedly saying at one point that they “all have AIDS” and, more recently, that their country is a “shithole.”

Between 2016 and 2017, approval of U.S. leadership in the Americas fell 25 points; fewer than 1 in 4 people now say they approve of U.S. leadership. In Haiti, the drop was 29 points. In El Salvador, another of the “shithole” countries, approval was more than cut in half, falling from majority approval to less than a quarter.


Note that the Gallup polling was conducted before Trump’s recent comments about these countries were reported.

Trump also included the continent of Africa in his disparagement and, when he made the AIDS comment, reportedly said that Nigerians moving to the United States would be so besotted with our country that they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Despite that, American leadership enjoys the approval of more than half of those in Africa, and, in Nigeria, the figure even ticked upward (though within the margin of error).


Trump’s June comments about Haiti and Nigeria also reportedly included disparagement of people from Afghanistan as terrorists. Approval of U.S. leadership in Asia, already low in 2016, fell eight points to 30 percent in 2017. In Afghanistan, the decline was seven points.

But notice Australia, included in Gallup’s Asia numbers. The percentage of those approving of U.S. leadership plunged 31 points in that country, one of America’s closest partners. In 2016, half the country approved of American leadership. Now, fewer than 1 in 5 do.


That pattern holds in America’s other traditional base of allies, Europe. In 2016, 44 percent of Europeans approved of U.S. leadership. Norway, the country that Trump suggested was the sort of place from which we should welcome immigrants (unlike the “shithole” nations), is now home to far more people who seem clearly disinclined to make such a move. In 2016, 55 percent of the country approved of American leadership. That fell a remarkable 42 points in 2017.


That’s the third-largest drop of any country, after Portugal (down 51 points) and Belgium (44 points). Living in Belgium, you may recall, was once described by Trump as the equivalent of “living in a hellhole,” which may have made residents of that country unsympathetic to his leadership.

The drop in perceptions of American leadership means that the United States moves from first in that measure globally to third, behind perceptions of Germany and China. The last time the United States was in third place was in 2008. By 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office, the United States was back in first place.

There is one silver lining for Trump, though. In one major European country, perceptions of U.S. leadership improved.


In 2016, only 2 percent of Russians approved of American leadership. Now, that figure is 8 percent.