Now, it’s not a huge margin; 27% say they have confidence in Putin while 22% say they have confidence in Trump. Those numbers pale in comparison to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, about whom 42% say they have confidence.
Still, it’s a remarkable sign of just how negatively Trump is viewed in the world.
But, as the Pew poll details, much of the distrust in Trump is born of the policies he has pursued in his first five months in office. More than seven in 10 oppose Trump’s decision to withdraw from major international trade deals and his announcement that the US would pull out of the Paris climate accords.
Good!, many Trump supporters will conclude looking at these numbers. Those countries don’t like us because we are finally putting America first again! Trump isn’t willing to roll over to the world community like President Obama! (In the final years of the Obama presidency, almost two-thirds of people in these 37 countries had confidence in him to do the right things on the world stage.)
Which is why Trump isn’t going to worry too much — or at all — about these latest poll numbers. After all, he ran on making America great again, not making the rest of the world great again — at America’s expense, as he would put it. And he explicitly ran against the image of Obama courting the opinion leaders of Europe rather than the average middle class American.
“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We want fair treatment for its citizens, and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers. We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won’t be. They won’t be.”
The bigger question — and one Trump seems entirely unconcerned about — is what this deterioration in the world’s view of the American president means for his ability to lead on internal affairs. Maybe nothing. Maybe the power of the US and Trump’s projection of strength is enough to cow the world into doing what we want.
But, maybe just maybe, the lack of confidence in Trump’s commitment to doing the right thing for the world does have negative implications — large and small — on how world leaders view the US and our ability to push our priorities in the months and years to come.