Biden, who is set to be inaugurated as president Wednesday, is expected to “do the right thing regarding world affairs” by 79 percent of Germans, 72 percent of the French and 65 percent of Britons, according to polling conducted by the Pew Research Center late last year and published Tuesday.
The high ratings for Biden in Western Europe’s largest countries form a stark contrast to those for his predecessor: Pew found that levels of confidence in Trump in Germany, France and Britain were just 10 percent, 11 percent and 19 percent respectively.
These views of Trump were recorded over the summer, and they may not reflect the departing president’s refusal to accept the results of the November election or this month’s violence at the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s domestic approval ratings have dropped during his final weeks in office, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Despite Trump’s ancestral history in Germany and Britain, as well as his avowed fondness for France, polls suggest that the Republican president has seen low popularity in all three countries throughout his time in office, along with a deepening skepticism of American power amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. leader has clashed with his counterparts on issues including trade and military spending, has been greeted with large protests during visits to European capitals, and has waged a war of words with elected officials in Britain and France.
Pew has been tracking global confidence in the sitting U.S. president since 2000. The lowest ratings in France and Germany were both recorded during the Trump administration (the lowest approval recorded in Britain was 16 percent in 2008 for President George W. Bush).
In all three countries, the highest ratings over the two decades were recorded during the first year of the Obama administration, when 93 percent of Germans, 91 percent of the French and 86 percent of Britons said they had a positive view of the U.S. leader.
Part of the relative popularity of Biden over Trump among European publics appeared to be linked to policy. In all three countries, Pew found that significant majorities said they expected an improvement in the U.S. responses to climate change and the coronavirus pandemic under Biden, as well as a general improvement in U.S. foreign policy.
There appeared to be positive feelings on both sides of the Atlantic about U.S.-Europe relations: 84 percent of Germans and French said they were optimistic about transatlantic relations under Biden, along with 72 percent of Britons and 73 percent of Americans.
There may be some struggles ahead, however, for transatlantic diplomacy. A separate study by the European Council on Foreign Relations with a different methodology, also released Tuesday, suggested a considerably more pessimistic view of the U.S.-Europe relationship across the continent, with a majority of respondents in 11 countries indicating they expected China to be the more influential superpower within a decade.
Data released by the Pew Research Center last year suggested a similar conclusion, with 55 percent of Germans, 48 percent of French and 47 percent of Britons naming China as the world’s leading economic power — considerably higher than those who said the same of the United States and in all three cases, an increase from the first year of Trump’s term.
Though negative views of China have risen sharply within Europe, this may not result in a large swing toward the United States: A poll conducted for the Welt newspaper in Germany by polling firm Infratest Dimap last month found that only 17 percent supported siding with the United States in a U.S.-China conflict, with 77 percent suggesting Germany should remain neutral.
Pew said its polling of European views of Biden was conducted using telephone surveys of 3,066 adults from Nov. 12 to Dec. 23, 2020, with a margin of error between 3.9 and 4.2 percentage points. Views of Trump were recorded during telephone interviews of 1,070 adults conducted between June 10 and Aug. 3, 2020, with a margin of error between 3.9 and 4.1 percentage points.