Obama remains popular in EU, despite domestic woes
September 14th, 2011
11:26 AM ET
3 years ago

Obama remains popular in EU, despite domestic woes

Washington (CNN) – While a new CNN poll has his disapproval at the highest point of his presidency, President Barack Obama’s woes at home do not appear to have tainted the president in the eyes of Europeans even three years after his election was watched around the world.

The Transatlantic Trends 2011 poll, released Wednesday, shows that 75 percent of people polled in the European Union approved of Obama’s handling of international issues. These numbers remain markedly higher than President Bush, who scored a 20 percent in 2008, and other of European leaders, who scored an average of 54 percent.

“Obviously, Europeans, by in large, can’t vote in American elections but I think what is important here is that with presidential approval from Europe, the support of America’s overall international affairs also increases,” said Zsolt Nyiri, director of Transatlantic Trends.

Obama's approval is not as high as it used to be, though. In 2009, 83 percent of those samples in the European Union approved of Obama's handling of international policies.

“I think it is highly unlikely that it will go back to the initial high percentages,” said Nyiri. “It was really rare so I think what is happening now is Obama is still popular but his numbers are coming back to earth.”

On the home front, however, the president’s approval rating continues to slip.

According to a Tuesday CNN/ORC poll, the president's approval rating stands at 43 percent, virtually unchanged from the 45 percent approval rating in the previous CNN poll.

The survey reveals that 55 percent say they do not approve of how Obama is handling his duties in the White House and the number of Americans who think he is a strong leader has dropped to a new low.

“I think most of the troubles that Obama is facing are domestic issue of unemployment and the economy. Europeans, however, look at Obama mostly as an international leader,” Nyiri said.

The international poll showed that Obama continues to receive higher marks for his policies in Europe, than he does in the United States.

Among Europeans surveyed, 51 percent approved of Obama’s handling of Libya and Afghanistan, while 73 percent approved his fighting of international terrorism.

This compares to 47 percent in the CNN/ORC poll who approve of the president’s handling on foreign affairs.

Though Obama’s approval rating was highest in Portugal (82 percent), Germany (81 percent) and Italy (79 percent), in 2009 all of these countries gave Obama a 90-plus rating. Spain showed the steepest decline over the three-year period, from 85 percent in 2009 to 68 percent today.

“Obama’s numbers declined most in countries where they were so high [after he was first elected], that nobody expected it to last over a longer time period,” Nyiri said.

The domestic poll was conducted over the telephone by CNN by ORC International from September 9-11 among 1,038 adults. It has an overall sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The European survey was conducted by TNS Opinion and surveyed 1,000 adults in Turkey and 12 European Union from May 25 to June 17. The over-the-phone interviews come with a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Gale

    I guess they should. Look how much money he send out of the country!

    September 14, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Four and The Door

    Europe doesn't have to deal with the huge debt he is running up on the flurry of unsuccessful programs. In fact, his foibles have made European companies more competitive. He has probably done more for the French economy than Nicholas Sarkozy. What's not to like?

    September 14, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. CoJo

    remember how Mr. Bush alienated the rest of the world? I'm betting Perry will be worse.

    September 14, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. SaintM

    This is why he is considered a good leader. He is multifaceted, and tolerant, and listens to other world leaders–and he is the first to do so in many, many years. He may be on soft ground domestically, but I believe this will pass. Voters are looking for a good all-around leader. The GOP candidates do not have nearly the credentials, experience and respect that President Obama has abroad. Perry, Romney and others will get shoes thrown at them and expecially Perry will be perceived as another GW Bush, and will not be respected. When you fail at bringing a consensus on the international front, you are a failure. President Obama, keep up the good work and continue to represent us well internationally. You will reap the rewards in 2012.

    September 14, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. Republican Robber Baron

    Europe has extremely poor leadership right now and really needs the USA more than ever. The UK is mired in scandal fall-out from Fox spy-gate. France and Germany are stuck with massive default risk for Greece and other shaky lending. Obama really needs to figure-out a way to help improve the global banking system...probably a global effort for Green Energy would do it.

    September 14, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Marie MD

    @four thanks for letting us know what the talking heads and Limbaugh are lying about.
    That being said, get your head out of the sand and realize that Europe is also going through their own monetary troubles and it's hurting our economy and retirement funds.
    It's sad that the Europeans are smarter than we are when it comes to our leaders. South korea, not in Europe unlike the quitter who doesn't know geography doesn't count after inviting this whore tto speak about knowledge of nothing!

    September 14, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. As GM goes, so goes the country...Unions/Democrats killed GM, now they are killing the country

    If they like him so much how about we GIVE HIM to you?!! After all, he's a socialist just like most of you Europeans. We don't need this socialist disease over here. We don't want to be another bankrupt Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland.

    September 14, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Joan

    President Obama is popular in other parts of the world (Europe, Canada, etc.) because they recognize what a clever, capable and compassionate leader he is. He is also a really likeable guy. Also, in other countries he isn't lambasted daily by horrible verbal attacks from the right and media. The spin in America is just mindboggling. It is a shame that so many of the vicious and often downright lies that are spewn about him are actually believed by many Americans. Case in point is that this poll will be swept under the rug and not get air time because it is too positive and not sensational enough. I think many countries would love to have him as their leader and can't fathom the disrespect shown toward him in the US. Americans don't deserve him and if a Republican gets in next year they will pay a price again economically and in loss of international respect.

    September 14, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. bob oh

    Hmm.. maybe the EU will elect him to some position when he gets fired.

    September 14, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    Marie MD
    @four thanks for letting us know what the talking heads and Limbaugh are lying about...
    _______________________________________________________________________________
    You're welcome. But I can't take credit for Limbaugh or the talking heads or Fox News. I haven't watched or heard from any of them in years. But I do have a graduate degree in business and have started my own 7 years ago and created 20 manufacturing jobs. I'll take credit for my own posts.

    September 14, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. gt

    of course ... he is just like them....socialist

    September 14, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. B

    I will never forget the Newspaper headline from Europe after Bush won a second term. The Headline was: "How could so many Americans be so stupid"

    We will probably do it again and elect another arrogant moron like Perry, that’s the American way, memory cells last about two weeks..

    They understand.

    September 14, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Tony 140

    Good. Let him run for President of France.

    September 14, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Gale wrote:
    I guess they should. Look how much money he send out of the country!
    -------------
    I believe that you are talking about TARP, which was written by Republicans, which sent a couple hundred billion to European based financial institutions.

    September 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. As GM goes, so goes the country...Unions/Democrats killed GM, now they are killing the country

    Maybe Obama can become the leader of Germany??? I hear they have a lot of money that needs to be re-distributed to the other bankrupt socialist European countries. He's just the man to do it!!!

    September 14, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Indy

    Four and the Door

    That is awesome that you are a job creator and manufacturing is a tough one, so I applaud you for that and you have also proven that it is people like you that create employment not Presidents. You also obviously have created jobs for the middle class and are aware of the problems that the middle class are dealing with so hats off to you !

    September 14, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. c brooks

    Great job Mr. President!!! Keep doing what you do best, leading our country in a positive direction. Remember those most critical of our president, couldn't begin to know how to lead this country. Empty wagons always make the most noise!!

    September 14, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. Ted van Tol

    "As GM goes, so goes the country...Unions/Democrats killed GM, now they are killing the country

    If they like him so much how about we GIVE HIM to you?!! After all, he's a socialist just like most of you Europeans. We don't need this socialist disease over here. We don't want to be another bankrupt Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland".

    First: For the last time! In Europe we are mostly social democrats, not sociialists! And being social is not a crime, it's a
    christian mission.

    second: You escaped from bankruptcy, coursed by your former president, we all know.

    third : Barack Obama is a very intelligent President but is made a "lame duck" by the Americans without any patience.

    fourth: your political system faled. There is no governing possible. Republicans will block all the positive staps to
    improve the economy because they love to see Obama to fail. When there will be a Republican President next time
    the Democrats will do the same. All over the backs of the American people.

    fifth: Yes, we love your President because he is a decent person without scandals. You should be very proud of your
    President.

    Please CNN post this comment from a Dutch European.

    September 14, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. DannyCali

    It true......., Europeans know better than Americans, I think Obama more better than the other GOP now.

    September 14, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. BinFL

    Americans hating on this President are really just showing their true colors. They don't put country first as this man is trying his best to move the USA into the 21st century. It's a sad state of affairs when other countries have such high respect for our President but our own citizens do not. For all of you that bash Preisdent Obama daily and also invoke that Bush got bashed also, remember this....the vast majority of Americans and the world were all with us and President Bush after 9/11, but by acting like the cowboy he was and charging into Iraq he lost that respect. So, what was one facet that Americans were looking for in our next President...that they would gain the world's respect back. President Obama did just that and look how is being treated by his own citizens...DISGUSTING!,

    September 14, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Clwyd

    That is because there are no redneck racists over there. EU people are more intelligent and educated than the dumbing down of America going on here right now!

    September 14, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Mary

    If the love the guy so much, let them have him. I'm sure there would be millions of Americans that would be willing to help Obama pack and send him on his way.

    September 14, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Woman In California

    @ Four and The Door

    You were told by "one of your own" yesterday that you are AN EMBARRASSEMENT. Take the hint. Even YOUR own party realizes you are crazy so don't worry about the president – he'll be just fine with people such as yourself voting republican.

    September 14, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  24. Jeff

    Of course he is, Europe is comprised of a majority of psuedo-Socialist contries that are falling further and further behind in relevance. That is inline with what Obama is doing to the USA.

    September 14, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. ryanrory

    FOUR AND THE DOOR: Congrats on starting your own business. The american dream I suppose.What's not to like you asked? Talking points that are about a narrow as a fibre optic cable. Way too simple and no substance. Opinion based on tunnel vision. Are you for busting unions and lowering the standard of loving in the US? Running your own business you could really run up the profits if your labour costs were in line with china or Thailand or even Mexico. You speak as though nothing bad existed before Obama. You seem intelligent enough, maybe you can expand those talking points to shore up your weak arguements for not liking the Prez. Cudos to Rudy NYC for doing his homework in this regard.

    September 14, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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