About half of Americans and a majority of Republicans think the country’s global influence is declining, according to a new Pew Research analysis.
Overall, 47 percent of respondents to the Pew poll said the country’s influence on the world stage was waning, 19 percent said it was growing, and the rest said it was unchanged. The think tank published a report last week based on a survey conducted at the beginning of the year.
The findings may surprise Democrats who hope that replacing Donald Trump with Joe Biden will improve the country’s image and its reputation around the world.
President Biden’s supporters have widely embraced the narrative that his administration will restore America’s global reputation and elevate the United States to the ranks of economic partners and competitors.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, received low marks from many quarters for his handling of international relations during his four years in office.
The new poll did not ask about the performance of the Biden administration, but many Americans do not feel good about their country on the international stage.
Predictably, responses were divided by party.
58 percent of Americans who do not support the current president or his party see the country’s influence declining, compared to 37 percent of Democrats who support Biden.
Pew polled citizens of 18 other countries and found Americans to be the most dissatisfied with their nation’s global situation. No other country had such a high proportion of respondents worried that their nation was declining as a world power.
Around the world, party politics colored the responses.
“In nearly all countries surveyed, those who do not support the political party in power are more likely than supporters to believe that their country’s influence in the world is waning,” the report said.
Among the citizens of other global powers, there seems to be a growing threat of global disengagement.
43 percent of Japanese respondents believe the country’s global influence is weakening, while only 8 percent believe it is growing.
In Britain, 39 percent of respondents feel that the country’s global influence is decreasing, while 18 percent see it increasing.
Among the world’s largest economies, only Germany expressed relative confidence in the strengthening of the country’s global image. 25 percent of Germans see the country’s influence increasing, while 22 percent see it decreasing.
Of the 19 nations surveyed, only Israel provided a majority of residents who believe their global influence is growing.
Talk of America’s waning global influence inevitably turns to talk of China’s growing influence. In a previous Pew report, 66 percent of Americans believed China’s global influence was growing, while only 10 percent felt it was shrinking.
About the same share of Americans, 67 percent, see China’s power and influence as a threat to pollsters. But the public seems to see China as a competitor rather than an enemy.
Russia, on the other hand, is seen as an enemy of America. That attitude quickly changed after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. A Pew poll earlier this year saw China and Russia as economic rivals rather than Cold War enemies.
Pew’s findings match those of Gallup, which has polled Americans on the nation’s global reputation for decades. In 2022, only 37 percent of respondents told Gallup they would be satisfied with the way the United States is doing in the world today.
This feeling is nothing new. Gallup has found that in several polls dating back to the mid-2000s, a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the country’s global reputation. In contrast, most Americans expressed confidence in the country’s global standing in the years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Current concerns aside, most of the world still sees the United States as the most influential nation.
We know this from the US News magazine, which annually publishes the “Best Countries” ranking.
Factors include global varieties of nations in terms of perceived international influence.
China and Britain rank second and third in global influence on the US news list.