Confidence around the world is relatively high for Hillary Clinton and relatively low for Donald Trump according to a June Pew Research Center study.
In seven of the 10 European Union countries surveyed by Pew, more than half have confidence in Clinton’s ability to deal with world affairs. She also received good reviews from Canadians (60 percent) and Japanese (70 percent). Clinton received her lowest marks from Greece, where 78 percent of people surveyed have little or no confidence in her abilities.
Trump had less than a quarter of people across all 15 countries surveyed express confidence in his abilities.
“Overwhelming majorities in most of the countries surveyed have little or no confidence in his ability to handle international affairs,” the report said. “This includes 92 percent of Swedes, 89 percent of Germans, 88 percent of Dutch and 85 percent of both the French and British. This distaste is especially strong in Sweden, where 82 percent have no confidence at all in him.”
The report said positive opinions of Trump vary by political party support. The percentage of Trump-supporting people surveyed was generally associated with anti-immigrant parties within the country. In Italy (31 percent), the U.K. (30 percent), Germany (19 percent) and Hungary (28 percent) higher confidence in Trump was found among Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant parties.
The researchers said though confidence in Trump is higher among these groups, it still represents very low levels of confidence in the GOP candidate.
The study also found, in all of the countries surveyed with a large enough sample size, people who have confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin are more likely to express confidence in Trump.
(Map of the countries surveyed by Pew Research Center. Red markers represent Donald Trump’s polling while the blue markers represent Hillary Clinton’s polling. Click on the pins to see exact percentages. Map courtesy of Haley Hilton via Google Maps.)
These polling numbers are reflected in the opinions of citizens and experts around the world. Click here to read the opinions of seven individuals from across the globe who share their feelings about what is happening in the United States.
Washington columnist Edward Luce, also a commentator for the Financial Times, said he believes Trump is seen as a clown in Europe.
“Trump was in Scotland the day after the Brexit referendum in June, and said that he saw people celebrating and cheering on the streets of Scotland,” Luce said. “This made him even more of a figure of fun because Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit.”
According to Luce, there is a similarity in demographic between people who voted for Britain to leave the European Union and people who will choose to vote for Trump.
“The demographic base that supports Trump is very similar to the kinds of people that voted for Brexit,” Luce said. “Blue collar, white, non-urban, suspicious of multiculturalism, suspicious of openness to the world and overwhelmingly older. The millennials, of course, are less white, more urban, mixed in terms of marriage and relationships and are less likely to vote.”
While these similarities in demographics are present, Luce doesn’t believe the comparison is salient after the video of Trump speaking inappropriately about women was released on Oct. 7.
“Britain is thinking what every non-Trump supporting American thinks. It’s not that different,” Luce said. “Even the people who voted for Brexit would not vote for Trump.”
Before the upset, Luce believed what occurred in Brexit could be used as a warning sign for the Clinton campaign. He said Clinton should be focusing on younger people because the opinion polls only capture preference, rather than voter turn-out, which can give a false sense of confidence.
“Those parallels I would have considered relevant two weeks ago, I just don’t think they’re relevant anymore,” said Luce. “I think Trump has lost this probably quite badly. I don’t think there is any sophisticated or nuanced view to give about how Britain looks at Donald Trump.”
Iván Martinic is the senior editor at El Mercurio, the largest newspaper in Chile, and shared a South American perspective on the current presidential election.
“Nobody knows what (Trump) will do about South America,” Martinic said. “The only foreign relations we know he has had are with Mexico, Europe and Russia. Trump has never said one word about the rest of Latin America. We don’t know what he thinks about Brazil, Argentina, Colombia or Chile. It’s a mystery. I don’t know if he thinks that all the Latino people are Mexicans.”
Chile has had a free trade agreement with the United States for 15 years, as well as a visa waiver agreement for the past two. According to Martinic, nobody knows what Trump thinks about the current agreements and what he would like to do with them moving forward.
Martinic said he doesn’t believe these agreements will change if Clinton becomes president.
“Nothing (would) change right now because she was the secretary of state for President Obama,” Martinic said. “I think her policies for Latin America are the same as they were, and generally Chile has excellent relations with the United States.”
Martinic sees staggering problems with each of the candidates running. He believes in the past there were viable options in President Obama, President Bush and Mitt Romney.
“This year we have seen two candidates with many problems,” Martinic said. “Nobody is super strong. This is a problem that other countries are seeing about the United States. This is not a good situation for the country. I don’t know how the winner can have a relationship with Congress after these kinds of campaigns.”
Quinn Mecham is an assistant professor of political science at BYU and was previously the Franklin Fellow in Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State during Clinton’s term as secretary of state. He said there are two things clarifying the relatively positive polling surrounding how Clinton is seen around the world.
First, because Clinton was a well-traveled secretary of state (112 countries), world leaders know her and know what to expect from her. According to Mecham, Clinton traveled more than any previous secretary of state in U.S. history, and world leaders know her.
“She is in some ways a consummate diplomat,” Mecham said. “She believes in many of the tenets of traditional U.S. diplomacy including strengthening alliances, engaging with civil society, trying to ensure that the United States has friends and being willing to deliver tough messages when necessary. She does this in a diplomatic way that I think is more experienced that almost any president of the United States that we have ever had.”
Mecham said Clinton’s combination of White House experience with her husband, her time working in the U.S. Senate and then her four years at the state department make her not only extremely knowledgable about world events, but also a very good diplomat. He said the diplomacy shows in both her temperament and her training.
Her relationship to former President Bill Clinton is the second thing Mecham believes affects the way Clinton is viewed by world leaders. Because many leaders who worked with her husband are still around, they remember Bill Clinton’s presidency and his foreign policy approach. Mecham said Bill Clinton was remarkably popular around the world, particularly in places like Europe and in parts of the Middle East, including Turkey.
“Just by association, I think that people think of Hillary as a potential extension of the positive feelings they have about Bill Clinton,” Mecham said.
Mecham said there are key downsides to Clinton making her unpopular both abroad and within the states as a diplomat.
“There is a bit of a double edge sword there. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what she is thinking,” Mecham said, “I’m not entirely sure that people see her as the most friendly, trusted person they can imagine.”
A Trump presidency would be deeply problematic for American foreign relations, Mecham said.
“In fact, I believe that he’s done some potentially irreparable harm in American foreign relations just by winning the Republican nomination,” Mecham said.
When asked why Trump still has a relatively large number of supporters when his polling abroad is severely low, Mecham cited his lack of experience.
“People are not voting for Trump because of his foreign policy in the large majority of cases,” Mecham said. “Trump doesn’t do well here among people with international awareness.”