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Americans trust key world leaders less than other global audiences

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Americans generally trust various world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, less than Canadians, Europeans and the Asia-Pacific region, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 17 global audiences earlier this year.

Overall, six in ten American adults say they trust Biden to do the right thing about world affairs. This is similar to the share of Americans who express confidence in German Chancellor Angela Merkel (63%) and French President Emmanuel Macron (58%) and far higher than the share who trust Russian President Vladimir Putin ( 16%) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (15%). More than four in ten American adults say they have no faith in the Russian and Chinese presidents.

This analysis focuses on Americans’ views on key world leaders, including US President Joe Biden. For this analysis, we interviewed 2,596 American adults from February 1 to 7, 2021. All of those who took part in this survey are members of the Pew Research Centers American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited by through national, random surveys. sampling of residential addresses. That way, almost all American adults have a chance at selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the adult United States population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, and other categories. Learn more about the ATP methodology.

This analysis also includes data from nationally representative surveys of 16,254 adults in 16 advanced economies. All surveys were conducted by telephone with adults in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, between March 12 and May 26, 2021.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with the responses and methodology of the US survey. Consult our methodological database for more information on survey methods outside the United States

By comparison, respondents in other parts of the world are generally more likely than Americans to express confidence in each of these world leaders. Of the 16 audiences surveyed, excluding the United States, a median of about three-quarters of adults trust Merkel (77%) and Biden (74%), while a median of 63% trust Macron. Much less trust Putin and Xi (medians 23% and 20%, respectively).

Americans generally trust world leaders less than other audiences surveyed are

Notably, Americans are the less confidence in Biden among all audiences surveyed. This is the reverse of the trend observed under Donald Trump, when Americans showed significantly higher trust in the US president than other respondents around the world.

Americans are also among the least confident in Merkel. Only the Greeks trust the German Chancellor less, who obtains a 90% trust in some European countries. Opinions on Macron, Xi and especially Putin are also relatively negative in the United States compared to Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Many more Americans trust Merkel, Biden and Macron than Putin and Xi

Americans tend to have more extreme views of Biden than of his European counterparts. About a third of American adults (31%) say they trust Biden a lot, while only 19% say the same for Merkel and 9% for Macron. Across the spectrum, Americans are twice as likely to say they don’t have any confidence in Biden (23%) to say the same of the German and French leaders (respectively 9% and 10%). This is in large part due to the broad partisan divisions in Americans’ views on the US president.

Of the five leaders, Democrats and Republicans are the most divided over their own head of state. Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents are 61 percentage points more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (88% vs. 27%) to express their confidence in Biden to do the right thing about world affairs. (For more on the partisan divide over Bidens’ approach to foreign policy, see the February report from the Pew Research Centers.)

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to trust key world leaders;  Putin is an exception

Democrats are also 27 points more likely than Republicans to trust Merkel and Macron and 8 points more likely to trust Xi (18% vs. 10%). As for Putin, the partisan division is reversed. Republicans are 8 points more likely than Democrats to trust the Russian leader to do the right thing on world affairs, although only 20% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats share this view.

Note: The following are the questions used for this report, along with the responses and methodology of the US survey. Consult our methodological database for more information on survey methods outside the United States

Janell Fetterolf is an associate researcher focusing on global attitudes at the Pew Research Center.

Nicolas kent is a research assistant specializing in global attitudes research at the Pew Research Center.

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