Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Obama Bounce

Public opinion polls indicate that US President Barack Obama is enjoying much greater levels of public support among major European allies than his predecessor did. According to the Transatlantic Trends 2009 survey, just over three quarters (77 percent) of respondents in the European Union and Turkey "supported U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of international affairs". In the last year of the George W Bush presidency the same measure was down to nineteen percent. The authors of the Transatlantic Trends Survey describe the President's appeal to Europeans as an "Obama spell".

But the news is not all good for President Obama: he is considerably more popular in Europe than he is in his own country and amongst the people who elected him. The people of Central and Eastern Europe are also less enthusiastic about the new President than are their West European counterparts.

When it comes to the big issues there were some other interesting trends. Americans are much less inclined to trade economic performance for environmental sustainability than are the Europeans, 73 percent of whom would be prepared to sacrifice some economic growth to help deal with climate change. Americans also feel more adversely affected by the current recession.

The Obama bounce has brought European enthusiasm for the United States back to around the average levels seen over the period since the end of World War II. Now all Obama needs to do is get his compatriots (and voters) to see things the way the Europeans do! French lessons for New Yorkers, perhaps?

Further details on the survey results are available from Transatlantic Trends.

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