June 13th, 2012
12:05 AM ET

Poll: Obama policies weaken support for America

By Jill Dougherty

On the streets of Cairo, some Egyptians tell CNN they had high hopes when Barack Obama became U.S. president. Now there's bitter disappointment.

"We hoped for change after George Bush," one man says, "but, sorry, it's the same politics. It's not Obama's system per se, it's the system of the country."

That Egyptian's view mirrors the results of a new poll by the Pew Research Center. The Global Attitudes Project questioned more than 26,000 people in 21 countries.

Among America's traditional allies, like Europe and Japan, President Obama has largely repaired America's image tarnished in the Bush years, the survey found. But the Pew Research Center's data shows that Obama's policies are hurting him.

Take the use of drones. In 17 of the 21 countries surveyed, more than half disapprove of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremists in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. That contrasts sharply with the opinion of 62% of Americans, who approve of the drone campaign.

"Global approval of President Barack Obama's policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence," according to the Pew report.

One major finding, according to Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center in Washington, is that leadership affects overall image.

"Opinions about the president really shape opinions about the country. When President Bush was unpopular, the United States was largely unpopular," he said. "President Obama is largely popular, albeit not quite as popular as he was in 2009, and the United States is more popular than it was. So, the face, the leadership, matters to the world."

Opinion: World views of U.S.: Romney, Obama both right. And both wrong

In Europe there has been a dramatic turnaround in how European countries like Germany and allies like Japan view the United States.

In 2008, under President George W. Bush, 31% of Germans had a favorable view of the United States. In 2012, under President Obama, 52% do. In Japan, in 2008, 50% had a positive view of America. Now, 72% do.

But in many Muslim countries Obama's policies have damaged views of the United States. In Pakistan, favorable views slipped from 19% in 2008 to 12% in 2012. In Egypt, favorable views decreased from 22% to 19%.

The biggest concern worldwide about America, according to the survey, still is that it acts without concern for the interests of other countries. But despite disappointment with Obama's policies, there is considerable support for his re-election, in Europe and in some Latin American countries like Brazil.

In France, 92% of those questioned think Obama should get another term. In Germany, 89% agree and in Brazil, 72% think he should be re-elected. In Mexico, however, 35% think he deserves another term and 43% oppose another term.

"Most of the publics in allied nations think he should be re-elected, and by large numbers," Kohut said. "If he had those numbers in the United States he could do really well!"

But in some Middle Eastern countries, it's the reverse. In Egypt, 76% don't want him to have another term and in Jordan, it is 73%.

Another finding in the survey: Even America's friends in Europe think China, not the United States, is the world's top economy.

As one man on the streets of London said: "If China sneezes, I think the rest of the world gets a cold."

But the Chinese themselves aren't so sure. Only 29% of Chinese in the Pew Survey said China is the world's leading economic power. Almost half said it is the United States.

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