Among 16 World Leaders, Only the Spiritual Leaders – Pope Francis and The Dalai Lama – Garner Good Opinions from Majorities of Americans

President Obama seen as most influential at the international level, followed by Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin

05:00 AM EDT Jun 9, 2015 Rating
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Among 16 World Leaders, Only the Spiritual Leaders – Pope Francis and The Dalai Lama – Garner Good Opinions from Majorities of Americans

With the continually swelling roster of U.S. presidential hopefuls, it can sometimes seem as though there's seldom a time when the United States isn't in in the midst of a political campaign cycle. As such, perhaps it's not surprising to find that when asking Americans how they feel about 16 world leaders, the two who rise to the top are spiritual leaders rather than those in political roles. Nearly three-fourths (73%, down slightly from 76% in May 2014) have a good opinion of Pope Francis, while over six in ten (62%, down from 68% in 2014) have a good opinion of the Dalai Lama.

It's important to note that this poll does not measure job ratings, but rather Americans' positive or negative overall opinions toward these leaders.

These are the results of a Harris Poll® conducted online among a total of 2,225 U.S. adults (18 and older) between May 20 and 26, 2015.

Turning to political leaders, half of Americans (50%, up from 45% last year) have a good opinion of British Prime Minister David Cameron and roughly half (49%, on par with last year) indicate the same for President Obama (whose job performance rating, incidentally, saw an increase vs. last month, from 38% to 41%).

Looking at some of the other heads of state, over four in ten Americans have a good opinion of Angela Merkel of Germany (45%, up from 43%) and nearly four in ten have a good opinion of Israel's Benjamin Netanyahou (37%, unchanged from last year).

Looking to the other end of the spectrum, majorities have poor opinions of North Korea's Kim Jong Un (75%) and Vladimir Putin of Russia (67%), while nearly half indicate the same for Hassan Rouhani of Iran (48%). In line with Americans' generally divisive views of their own leaders, 45% indicate having a poor opinion of President Obama.

Breaking Americans out by party affiliations, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to display positive opinions of The Dalai Lama (68% Dem vs. 59% Rep), Angela Merkel (49% vs. 41%), Francois Hollande of France (35% vs. 23%) and Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations (32% vs. 14%); it perhaps won't come as a surprise that they're also more likely to have a good opinion of President Obama (81% vs. 11%). Republicans, meanwhile, are more than twice as likely to have a positive opinion of Benjamin Netanyahou (56% Rep vs. 26% Dem).

Perceived Influence

Looking more specifically at perceived influence on an international level, here President Obama rises to the top of the list: nearly three fourths of Americans (73%, up from 70% last year) indicate he has either a great deal of influence or some influence. Roughly two-thirds (66%, the same as last year) feel Pope Francis has a great deal or some influence, while 64% (also on par with last year) say the same of Vladimir Putin.

Other leaders believed by majorities of Americans to have a great deal or some influence at the international level are David Cameron (59%, marginally up from 58%), Benjamin Netanyahu (56%, up from 50% last year), Xi Jinping of China (unchanged at 53%), and Angela Merkel (52%, up from 50%).

Comparatively fewer Americans feel Brazil's Spain's or Italy's leader are influential at the international level: one-fourth or fewer say Dilma Rousseff of Brazil (22%, up slightly from 22%), Mariano Rajoy Brey of Spain (23%, up from 20%) and Italy's Matteo Renzi (25%, up from 23%) have a great deal or some influence on the international level.

 

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OPINIONS OF WORLD LEADERS

"For each of the following people, please indicate whether you have a very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor or very poor opinion of that person?"

Base: All U.S. adults

GOOD

(NET)

Very

Good

Somewhat Good

POOR

(NET)

Somewhat

Poor

Very

Poor

Not

Sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Pope Francis

73

46

27

10

5

5

18

The Dalai Lama

62

35

27

9

6

4

29

David Cameron (Great Britain)

50

16

33

12

8

4

38

Barack Obama (United States)

49

27

22

45

17

29

6

Angela Merkel (Germany)

45

16

29

11

7

4

44

Benjamin Netanyahou (Israel)

37

17

20

28

17

12

34

Francois Hollande (France)

28

5

23

18

11

7

53

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

23

5

18

24

12

12

53

Matteo Renzi (Italy)

21

4

18

16

11

5

63

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

18

4

14

17

12

5

65

Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

16

3

13

18

11

7

66

Xi Jinping (China)

16

4

12

36

21

15

48

Vladimir Putin (Russia)

13

3

10

67

21

46

20

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

11

2

9

37

16

21

52

Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

9

1

7

48

17

31

44

Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

5

2

3

75

7

68

20


OPINIONS OF WORLD LEADERS - TREND

"For each of the following people, please indicate whether you have a very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor or very poor opinion of that person?"

Percent saying "Very/Somewhat good"

Base: All U.S. adults

Nov 08

Jan 09

April 09

Nov 09

April 10

May 13

May 14

May 15

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Pope Francis

X

X

X

X

X

61

76

73

The Dalai Lama

60

66

62

58

72

64

68

62

David Cameron (Great Britain)

X

X

X

X

X

45

45

50

Barack Obama (United States)

X

71

68

53

57

51

49

49

Angela Merkel (Germany)

30

27

25

34

34

41

43

45

Benjamin Netanyahou (Israel)

X

X

X

35

34

42

37

37

Francois Hollande (France)

X

X

X

X

X

21

22

28

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

19

18

17

19

19

24

23

23

Matteo Renzi (Italy)

X

X

X

X

X

X

19

21

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

X

X

X

X

X

16

17

18

Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

X

X

X

X

X

19

16

16

Xi Jinping (China)

X

X

X

X

X

18

15

16

Vladimir Putin (Russia)

18

19

15

22

19

22

11

13

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

X

X

X

X

X

X

9

11

Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

X

X

X

X

X

X

8

9

Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

X

X

X

X

X

5

5

5


OPINIONS OF WORLD LEADERS - BY POLITICAL PARTY

"For each of the following people, please indicate whether you have a very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor or very poor opinion of that person?"

Percent saying "Very/Somewhat good" & "Very/Somewhat poor"

Base: All U.S. adults

"Very/Somewhat good"

"Very/Somewhat poor"

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Pope Francis

73

71

76

76

10

15

6

10

The Dalai Lama

62

59

68

62

9

11

7

9

David Cameron (Great Britain)

50

54

50

52

12

12

11

13

Barack Obama (United States)

49

11

81

44

45

85

15

51

Angela Merkel (Germany)

45

41

49

49

11

13

9

10

Benjamin Netanyahou (Israel)

37

56

26

40

28

13

39

28

Francois Hollande (France)

28

23

35

27

18

26

11

21

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

23

14

32

22

24

39

12

27

Matteo Renzi (Italy)

21

19

24

22

16

17

13

17

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

18

14

22

17

17

22

12

18

Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

16

12

21

15

18

25

14

18

Xi Jinping (China)

16

11

19

19

36

47

32

35

Vladimir Putin (Russia)

13

11

13

17

67

71

69

67

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

11

6

16

9

37

45

30

41

Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

9

2

14

9

48

62

39

50

Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

5

2

6

6

75

83

73

77


INFLUENCE OF WORLD LEADERS

"For each of the international personalities, how much influence do you think they have on an international level?"

Base: All U.S. adults

GREAT DEAL/SOME INFLUENCE

(NET)

Great deal of influence

Some influence

NO/LITTLE

INFLUENCE (NET)

Just a little influence

No influence

Not sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Barack Obama (United States)

73

45

28

19

11

8

9

Pope Francis

66

35

32

19

14

5

15

Vladimir Putin (Russia)

64

31

32

17

11

6

19

David Cameron (Great Britain)

59

25

34

13

10

3

28

Benjamin Netanyahou (Israel)

56

22

34

17

13

4

28

Xi Jinping (China)

53

27

26

14

9

5

33

Angela Merkel (Germany)

52

21

31

14

10

4

33

The Dalai Lama

44

17

27

33

22

11

23

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

41

14

27

24

17

7

35

Francois Hollande (France)

38

7

31

25

19

6

37

Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

36

10

27

30

19

11

33

Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

36

13

23

44

20

25

20

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

30

7

23

33

22

11

38

Matteo Renzi (Italy)

25

5

21

33

24

9

42

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

23

4

19

33

23

10

44

Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

22

3

19

35

23

11

43


INFLUENCE OF WORLD LEADERS - TREND

"For each of the following international personalities, how much influence do you think they have at an international level?"

Percent Saying "A Great deal/Some influence"

Base: All U.S. adults

May 13

May 14

May 15

%

%

%

Barack Obama (United States)

70

70

73

Pope Francis

54

66

66

Vladimir Putin (Russia)

58

64

64

David Cameron (Great Britain)

56

58

59

Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)

55

50

56

Xi Jinping (China)

53

53

53

Angela Merkel (Germany)

47

50

52

The Dalai Lama

39

45

44

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

41

42

41

Francois Hollande (France)

33

32

38

Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

X

30

36

Kim Jong Un (North Korea)

34

35

36

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinan Authority)

X

25

30

Matteo Renzi (Italy)

X

23

25

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

22

20

23

Dilma Rouseff (Brazil)

23

21

22


INFLUENCE OF WORLD LEADERS - BY POLITICAL PARTY

"For each of the following international personalities, how much influence do you think they have at an international level?"

Percent Saying "A Great deal/Some influence"

Base: All U.S. adults

"Great deal/Some influence"

"No/Little influence"

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Barack Obama (United States)

73

58

85

73

19

33

8

20

Pope Francis

66

70

70

64

19

20

15

21

Vladimir Putin (Russia)

64

67

62

68

17

16

19

14

David Cameron (Great Britain)

59

63

60

61

13

12

12

14

Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)

56

64

54

56

17

13

17

18

Xi Jinping (China)

53

58

51

56

14

13

15

13

Angela Merkel (Germany)

52

51

55

54

14

16

14

12

The Dalai Lama

44

43

50

41

33

36

28

38

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

41

36

45

43

24

32

20

24

Francois Hollande (France)

38

37

42

36

25

31

21

25

Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

36

41

37

36

30

31

29

31

Kim Jong Un (North Korea)

36

38

36

36

44

46

43

47

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinan Authority)

30

30

34

27

33

36

29

35

Matteo Renzi (Italy)

25

22

30

24

33

40

29

33

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

23

22

27

21

33

37

31

32

Dilma Rouseff (Brazil)

22

19

28

20

35

40

32

35


TABLE 7

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S JOB RATING - TREND

"How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?"

Base: All U.S. adults

 

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2015

May

41

59

 

Apr

38

62

Mar

37

63

Feb

38

62

Jan (post-SOTU)

42

58

Jan (pre-SOTU)

39

61

2014

December

33

67

 

November

35

65

October

34

66

September

30

70

August

32

68

July

34

66

June

38

62

May

38

62

April

33

67

March

35

65

February

35

65

January

32

68

2013

December

34

66

 

November

32

68

October

35

65

September

34

66

July

39

61

June

41

59

March

38

62

2012

December

45

55

September

41

59

April

41

59

March

40

60

January

36

64

2011

December

36

64

 

November

34

66

October

33

67

September

32

68

July

38

62

May

46

54

April

38

62

March

39

61

Feb.

42

58

Jan.

44

56

2010

Dec.

36

64

 

Nov.

38

62

Oct.

37

63

Sept.

38

62

Aug.

40

60

June

39

61

May

42

58

March

41

59

Jan.

40

60

2009

Dec.

41

59

 

Nov.

43

57

Oct.

45

55

Sept.

49

51

Aug.

51

49

June

54

46

May

59

41

April

58

42

March

55

45

*Positive = excellent or pretty good. **Negative = only fair or poor.


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

The Harris Poll ® #31, June 9, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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