Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has two key foreign policy proposals at its core. One is to wall off the border with Mexico. The other is to halt immigration from Muslims (or some subset thereof depending on the speaker and the day). These are proposals that are not ones that would win Trump an award from the Global Internationalism Council (should such a thing exist), but that’s Trump’s point. “America First,” as the slogan goes. Step one in Making America Great Again.
Such an attitude is tailor-made to appeal to Americans concerned about globalization and the threat of terrorism. It is not intended to make people in other countries happy — and new data from the Pew Research Center suggests that they aren’t.
Pew asked people around the world how much confidence they had in President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs. It’s a deeply subjective question, of course, but there were stark differences in response. Three-quarters of Europeans had confidence in Obama to do the right thing. Fifty-nine percent had confidence in Clinton. Nine percent said the same of Trump — with 85 percent saying they had little or no confidence in Trump.
On a country-by-country basis, the same split between Clinton and Trump exists. The two are closest in Greece, where no one has much confidence in either of them. But in Sweden, where 82 percent of people have absolutely zero confidence in Trump to do the right thing, the gap between Clinton and Trump is a yawning 155 percentage points, on net. (Eighty-three percent of the country has confidence in Clinton, to 14 percent who don’t. Only 6 percent have confidence in Trump, to 92 percent who don’t.)
What sorts of Europeans are more likely to view Trump favorably? Pew offers some hints.
Members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) have no confidence in Trump on net, but 30 percent of that group says they do have confidence in him — well above the 12 percent who say the same nationally. UKIP is the most nationalistic party in the UK; only 8 percent of the left-leaning Labour Party have confidence in the presumptive Republican nominee.
Another good predictor is of people who hold a positive assessment of another brash politician: Russian president Vladimir Putin. Trump is consistently viewed with more confidence by people who similarly think Putin can be relied on to do the right thing. The gap is widest among Italians, with 12 percent of those who have no confidence in Putin saying they’re confident in Trump — but 44 percent of those who are confident in Putin saying the same about the Manhattan businessman.
Trump, of course, would likely welcome the comparison. But Trump has a way to go before he is viewed as positively internationally as is Putin. Putin gets worse confidence marks than Obama in every country surveyed except China and Greece. But Trump gets worse marks than Putin in every country except Spain (where the two are tied) and Poland. There are no countries were Trump is viewed with more confidence than Obama; he’s closest in China. (Trump loves China.)
Here’s the thing about all of this: Trump will probably see it as a badge of honor. His goal is very much not to be beloved internationally, but instead loved domestically.
That effort is going only slightly better.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Philip Bump