World Leaders Face Tough Reviews

By Harris, Special for  USDR

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. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found  here.

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 ofRussia (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%), andAngela 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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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.  For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit us at

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