In 1980, President Reagan won the election by asking Americans one simple question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
In 2016, the question was more of an implicit one from Donald Trump: Was America better off then than it was eight years ago, when Barack Obama took office?
The country answered no, and duly elected Donald Trump to the presidency. Now, just a year and change later, a new Gallup poll shows more Americans are satisfied with with the direction of country, now under Donald Trump, than have been in over a decade.
“Forty-five percent of Americans are satisfied with the position of the United States in the world, a 13-year high and a 13-percentage-point increase from one year ago, just after President Donald Trump took office,” a press release from Gallup earlier this week read.
“The public is also more likely than it was a year ago to think the U.S. rates favorably in the eyes of the rest of the world.”
In 2017, only 32 percent were satisfied with the position of the United States, and only 42 percent thought it rated favorably in the eyes of the world.
Ironically, the one thing Barack Obama rated higher on was how the world viewed the president — 45 percent thought it was favorably in 2016, the last full year of Obama’s presidency, vs. both 29 percent in 2017 and 2018.
However, Obama’s numbers in both departments were lower back in 2016, bringing home 36 percent on Americans satisfied with the position of the United States in the world and 54 percent on whether we rated favorably.
In other words, while Americans thought the world looked upon Barack Obama in a more favorable light than Donald Trump, they didn’t actually think that was doing too much for our position in the world and seem to feel roughly the same about how the world views us.
What could this possibly be attributed to? Well, one could start with the Iran deal.
Or the fact that North Korea was able to build up its weapons technology under the Obama administration’s policy of “strategic patience.”
Or the fact that the Obama administration abandoned its most crucial ally in the Middle East, Israel.
Gallup, of course, has a different explanation.
“The double-digit declines recorded when Trump took office last year might seem to have been linked — resulting from a general sense that a Trump presidency would be poorly received abroad,” the press release read.
“But if there was a link in the public’s minds, it has been broken this year, as Trump’s ‘respect’ numbers have failed to improve, while the percentage who think the rest of the world views the United States favorably has rebounded to pre-Trump levels.”
That still doesn’t explain why the the survey — which was taken between Feb. 1-10 and had a margin of error of 4 points — showed the highest rating in 13 years when it came to world standing. That’s the entirety of the Obama presidency, mind you.
Perhaps — and this is just spitballing here — it has something to do with the fact that our world standing was never really a priority for the Obama administration, at least in the eyes of the American people. Just a theory — albeit one borne out by numbers.
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