Global Opinion of Obama Falls Due to Use of Drone Strikes

In many countries across the world, confidence in President Obama has seen a drop since he first took office, with widespread opposition tied to Obama's use of drone aircraft to strike at terrorists.

The most significant drop was among the Chinese, Mexicans and Japanese. Confidence in Obama dropped 24 percentage points among Chinese from 2009 to 2012 (62 to 38 percent), 13 percentage points among Mexicans (55 to 42 percent) and 11 percentage points among Japanese (84 to 74 percent), according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Confidence in Obama among Europeans remains high (80 percent), but has dropped six percentage points since 2009.

In Muslim countries, confidence in Obama began low in 2009 (33 percent) and has dropped nine percentage points since (24 percent).

Opposition to Obama's use of drone strikes appears to be the most significant driver of his drop in worldwide popularity. The United States is the only nation among the 22 surveyed that showed majority support (62 percent) for the use of drone aircraft to strike at targets in the war on terrorism.

There has been more controversy in recent weeks over the use of drone strikes. Last month, it was revealed that Obama holds weekly meetings with national security personnel to decide which terrorists to target for assassination. The pew surveys were completed, however, before that news broke.

Obama's global approval is still much higher than it was for President George W. Bush in 2008, his last year in office.

In France, 69 percent are favorable towards Obama today, compared with a 42 percent Bush favorability in 2008. The gap is 21 percentage points in Italy (74 to 53 percent) and Germany (52 to 31 percent), 22 percentage points in Japan (72 to 50 percent) and 25 percentage points in Spain (58 to 33 percent).

The gap between Obama's approval ratings today and Bush's approval ratings in 2008 is narrower in Muslim countries. In some Muslim nations, Bush's ratings were slightly higher, though still quite low for both presidents.

In Jordan and Pakistan (one of the nations where drone strikes are being used) Bush's 2008 approval is 7 percentage points higher than Obama's 2012 approval (19 to 12 percent in both nations).

The sample sizes varied for each nation. For most, the sample was around 1,000. Japan had the smallest sample with 700, which corresponded to a 4.1 percentage point sampling error. India had the largest sample with 4,018 Indian adults and a 3.9 percentage point sampling error.