Bad news: Germans disillusioned with Obama

Obama’s personal popularity has always exceeded German support for America. And today only half the Germans (52 percent) have a favorable view of the United States, down 10 percentage points since just last year and 12 points since Obama was elected. Among the eight European nations surveyed, only in Greece (35 percent) is pro-American sentiment weaker. And German views of the United States divide along generational lines. Germans 50 years of age and older are now far less pro-American (49 percent) than Germans ages 18 to 29 (61 percent). But overall German support for the United States is still far greater than in 2007, when only 30 percent of Germans had a positive view of the US.

Germans also don’t see America as an economic superpower. In 2008, only 30 percent of Germans named China as the world’s leading economic player. Now 62 percent do, while only 13 percent say the U.S. plays that role. No other Europeans judge American economic prowess so harshly.

This decline in support for the United States is closely linked to Germans’ critical views of Obama’s handling of particular international concerns. Strong majorities of Germans who think Obama takes into account the interests of countries like Germany when formulating his foreign policy also have a favorable view of America. Those who think Washington acts unilaterally look unfavorably on the US. Similarly, those who disapprove of Obama’s handling of the global economic crisis or think he has dealt unfairly with the Israelis and Palestinians hold a negative view of America.

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