British public opinion of Barack Obama has fallen slightly since his re-election, but he is still tremendously popular compared to his predecessor
Barack Obama arrived in Wales for the NATO Summit yesterday, with discussions already underway about how the 65-year old alliance will respond to modern-day threats like Islamic State and Russian aggression in Ukraine. The US President is reportedly working with David Cameron to press other NATO allies for solidarity on a number of fronts, including conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine, but also on domestic issues like ransom payments and military budgets.
YouGov’s latest research finds that the British public continue to have enormous faith in the US president’s abilities, in a stark contrast to George W. Bush, who was deeply unpopular in Britain from relatively early in his own eight-year presidency. The poll on Obama was conducted for the Times Red Box newsletter.
On the measure of overall job approval, two-thirds of the British public continue to say Barack Obama is doing well, while just a fifth say he isn’t. His net approval rating of +49 is actually down slightly from +56 in June of this year and +64 at the time of his re-election in 2012, but it remains sky-high compared to UK leaders like David Cameron (-12) or Barack Obama’s own approval rating back home in America (also -12 in the latest YouGov USA poll).
But the more dramatic contrast comes when Obama is compared to George W. Bush. In November 2003, George W. Bush made his own visit to the UK, but it was considered highly controversial. Public opinion had already begun to turn against the invasion of Iraq, which took place in March of that year, and Bush’s arrival in London was met with anti-war demonstrations.
At the time YouGov asked a series of questions about Bush, questions that have been repeated today about President Obama. The survey finds that most British people see Obama as “highly intelligent” (77%), “sincere” (71%) and “well-informed” (67%). He’s also widely seen to be a “good advertisement for America” (68%) and a “good friend to Britiain” (53%). In 2003, British people made the opposite judgment of Obama’s predecessor on each of these measures, with one exception – the public was divided 40%-40% on whether George Bush was a good friend to Britain.
The one measure where opinion is divided on Obama, whether he cares about the views of people in other countries (36% yes to 36% no), is the most negative measure for Bush (10% yes to 82% no).