Among 16 World Leaders, Pope Francis and The Dalai Lama Only Two that Garner Good Opinions from Majority of Americans

    New York, N.Y. – May 29, 2014 – In this interconnected global world, the leaders of other countries are more of a known entity then they were just a decade ago. In looking at how Americans feel about 16 leaders, the most striking thing is that the only two leaders whom a majority of U.S. adults have good opinions of are not leaders of countries, per se, but rather spiritual leaders. Three-quarters (76%) have a good opinion of Pope Francis, up from three in five (61%) who had a good opinion of him in May, 2013, right after he assumed the papacy. Over two-thirds (68%) have a good opinion of the Dalai Lama, up from 64% who said so last May.

    One thing to keep in mind is that this poll does not measure job ratings, but rather how good or bad overall opinions are toward these leaders. Leaders of countries come next, with about half of Americans (49%) having a good opinion of President Obama, down slightly from 51% who said this in May, 2014.

    These are the results of a Harris Poll¨ conducted online among a total of 2,286 adults 18 and older in the United States between May 14 and 19, 2014. Please note that this data was collected prior to Pope Francis’s recent Middle East trip and before President Obama’s surprise trip to Afghanistan.

    Looking at some of the other heads of state tested, over two in five Americans have good opinions of Prime Minister David Cameron (45%, same as last year) and Angela Merkel of Germany (43%, up from 41%).

    The bottom of the list has some controversial figures from around the world: Kim Jong Un (5%, same as May 2013), Hassan Rouhani of Iran (8%), Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (9%) and Vladimir Putin of Russia (11%, down from 22% last May).

    Influence of Leaders

    Just because Americans may not have a good opinion of a leader, does not mean that leader isn’t considered influential at the international level. Two of the top three most influential world leaders are also in the top three in terms of opinion, but one is at the bottom of the other list. Seven in ten Americans (70%) say President Obama has a great deal or some influence at the international level, unchanged from May, 2013. Two-thirds (66%) say the same of Pope Francis, up from over half (54%) who said this last May. Almost two-thirds (64%) say Vladimir Putin has a great deal or some influence in the world, up from 58% last May.

    Other leaders believed by half or more Americans to have a great deal or some influence at the international level are David Cameron (58%, up from 56%), Xi Jinping of China (53%, unchanged from last year), Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel (50%, down from 55% last year) and Angela Merkel (50%, up from 47%).

    At the bottom of the influence list are leaders Americans are most likely not as familiar with, as they do not appear on the international stage as often as some of their counterparts. Just one in five Americans say Mariano Rajoy Brey of Spain (20%, down from 22%) and Dilma Rouseff of Brazil (21%, down from 23%) have a great deal or some influence on the international level.

     

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    TABLE 1

    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

    76

    49

    27

    8

    4

    4

    16

    The Dalai Lama

    68

    42

    26

    8

    5

    3

    24

    Barack Obama (United States)

    49

    26

    24

    46

    18

    28

    5

    David Cameron (Great Britain)

    45

    13

    32

    13

    9

    4

    42

    Angela Merkel (Germany)

    43

    15

    28

    12

    8

    4

    45

    Benyamin Netanyahou (Israel)

    37

    12

    25

    23

    16

    8

    39

    Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

    23

    5

    18

    23

    12

    11

    54

    Francois Hollande (France)

    22

    4

    18

    22

    15

    8

    56

    Matteo Renzi (Italy)

    19

    4

    15

    16

    10

    6

    65

    Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

    17

    3

    14

    15

    10

    5

    69

    Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

    16

    3

    13

    18

    10

    7

    67

    Xi Jinping (China)

    15

    3

    12

    37

    19

    18

    48

    Vladimir Putin (Russia)

    11

    3

    8

    74

    23

    51

    14

    Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

    9

    2

    7

    41

    18

    23

    50

    Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

    8

    2

    7

    48

    17

    31

    43

    Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

    5

    2

    3

    80

    9

    71

    15


    TABLE 2

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Pope Francis

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    61

    76

    The Dalai Lama

    60

    66

    62

    58

    72

    64

    68

    Barack Obama (United States)

    X

    71

    68

    53

    57

    51

    49

    David Cameron (Great Britain)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    45

    45

    Angela Merkel (Germany)

    30

    27

    25

    34

    34

    41

    43

    Benyamin Netanyahou (Israel)

    X

    X

    X

    35

    34

    42

    37

    Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

    19

    18

    17

    19

    19

    24

    23

    Francois Hollande (France)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    21

    22

    Matteo Renzi (Italy)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    19

    Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    16

    17

    Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    19

    16

    Xi Jinping (China)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    18

    15

    Vladimir Putin (Russia)

    18

    19

    15

    22

    19

    22

    11

    Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    9

    Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    8

    Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    5

    5

     

    TABLE 3

    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)

    70

    42

    27

    21

    10

    10

    10

    Pope Francis

    66

    34

    32

    19

    14

    4

    15

    Vladimir Putin (Russia)

    64

    33

    31

    17

    10

    7

    19

    David Cameron (Great Britain)

    58

    21

    37

    14

    11

    4

    28

    Xi Jinping (China)

    53

    26

    27

    16

    11

    6

    31

    Benyamin Netanyahou (Israel)

    50

    16

    34

    20

    15

    5

    30

    Angela Merkel (Germany)

    50

    20

    30

    18

    13

    5

    32

    The Dalai Lama

    45

    18

    28

    34

    23

    11

    20

    Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

    42

    13

    28

    25

    16

    9

    34

    Kim Jung Un (North Korea)

    35

    12

    23

    44

    21

    22

    22

    Francois Hollande (France)

    32

    6

    26

    30

    22

    8

    37

    Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

    30

    8

    22

    35

    22

    13

    35

    Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

    25

    6

    19

    39

    25

    14

    36

    Matteo Renzi (Italy)

    23

    3

    19

    34

    24

    10

    43

    Dilma Rousseff (Brazil)

    21

    3

    18

    34

    24

    11

    44

    Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

    20

    3

    17

    35

    23

    11

    45


    TABLE 4

    INFLUENCE OF WORLD LEADERS

    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 EU adults in five countries and U.S. adults

    May 13

    May 14

    %

    %

    Barack Obama (United States)

    70

    70

    Pope Francis

    54

    66

    Vladimir Putin (Russia)

    58

    64

    David Cameron (Great Britain)

    56

    58

    Xi Jinping (China)

    53

    53

    Benyamin Netanyahu (Israel)

    55

    50

    Angela Merkel (Germany)

    47

    50

    The Dalai Lama

    39

    45

    Ban Ki-moon (United Nations)

    41

    42

    Kim Jong Un (North Korea)

    34

    35

    Francois Hollande (France)

    33

    32

    Hassan Rouhani (Iran)

    X

    30

    Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinan Authority)

    X

    25

    Matteo Renzi (Italy)

    X

    23

    Dilma Rouseff (Brazil)

    23

    21

    Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spain)

    22

    20


    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 14 and 19, 2014 among 2,286 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¨ #51, May 29, 2014

    By Regina A. Corso, VP, The Harris Poll and Public Relations Research

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

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