For the first time this decade, an international survey shows an increasing number of people have a favorable view of the United States. But as VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington, the survey also shows pessimism about the world economy.
Anticipation of a new U.S. President seems to be one factor in a global poll that shows that the number of people who look at the United States in a positive way has increased modestly in the past year.
The Washington-based Pew Research Center surveyed more than 24,000 people in 24 countries. Among those polled, favorable views of the U.S. were higher this year than last year in almost half of those countries. One big reason for that is the prospect of a new U.S. President next year, according to Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center."People around the world are looking forward to a new President," said Andrew Kohut. "President Bush has been very unpopular over the course of his term. And many people, if not most people following the election say the next President will provide a more acceptable foreign policy, and I think that may be part of the answer here."
In almost all of the countries surveyed in March and April, presumptive Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama received much more support than his likely Republican Party opponent, John McCain.
But America's popularity still remains very low in the Islamic world, and very few of the people surveyed there expect big changes in U.S. foreign policy, regardless of who wins the November election.
New York Times columnist David Brooks, after reviewing the survey, said he believes the results show the "Post-9/11 era," in which the global fight against terrorism dominated people's thinking, is coming to an end.
"It seems to me one of the results of this poll is that we are leaving an era in which global opinion was dominated by 9/11, and we're entering an era in which it is dominated by other stuff," said David Brooks.
That "other stuff" includes the economy, and the survey results in that area are not encouraging. Most of the people in 18 of the 24 countries polled describe economic conditions in their country as bad. And large majorities say the U.S. economy is hurting their national economies.
The exceptions to the pessimism are China and India, where people remain upbeat about their national economic conditions. People around the world also expressed concern about China's impact on the global economy, but while China's favorable ratings slipped from last year, people in most countries still approve of the decision to hold the Summer Olympics in Beijing.