Download this Press Release (PDF)
7 July 2016 – Global support for President Obama appears to have lasted through his two terms in office according to a new poll for the BBC World Service. Over seven in ten citizens across 18 tracking countries polled by Globescan in both 2012 and 2016 think that, retrospectively, the election of US President Barack Obama was a good choice. The most recent poll shows his average approval rating is 72 per cent―stable with the result from the 2012 BBC poll (when Obama was running for a second term) when 73 per cent had a favourable opinion of his first presidency.
The most recent poll, conducted by GlobeScan among more than 18,000 people worldwide between December 2015 and May 2016 asked the public to reflect on whether or not, in hindsight, they felt the choice of the American people to elect Obama in 2008 and again in 2012 was a good or a bad choice. A majority in 18 out of the 19 countries surveyed leaned positively towards Obama’s double tenure in the White House, with only Russians disagreeing.
Kenyans are the most upbeat towards Obama’s presidential tenure, with 95 per cent thinking his double election was a good choice. The other countries with a very strong pro-Obama sentiment include some of the USA’s closest allies: South Korea (93%, up 10 points from 2012), the UK (91%, up 9 points), France (90%, stable), Australia (89%, stable), and Canada (85%, stable). In some countries where the relationship with Washington may have been more ambivalent at times, the proportion of supporters of Obama’s time in office has also increased, with majorities now found in Turkey (52%, up 6 points), Pakistan (56%, up 7 points), and China (54%, up 5 points).
Positive sentiment towards Obama has nonetheless declined in five countries since 2012. In particular, Russian public opinion has shifted from a pro- to a now strongly anti-Obama sentiment. Only 18 per cent of Russians feel Obama’s eight-year time in office was a good choice in hindsight, as opposed to a majority of 51 per cent in 2012, and they are outnumbered by 73 per cent who now think this was a bad choice. In Germany, approval of Obama has also dropped sharply, from 91 per cent in 2012 to 53 per cent in 2016, with an increase in the proportion of people with an undecided opinion of the president (jumping from 2% to 29%). In the US itself, whose views are not included in the global average, a majority remains pro-Obama after his two terms, though narrower than in 2012 (53% today, down 5 points). The other two countries where support had fallen are Nigeria (74%, down 14 points) and Ghana (70%, down 8 points).
Amidst the race for the US primaries to nominate the two candidates that will campaign to replace President Obama in January 2017, the poll also asked if the election of a woman as the next American President would impact views the public holds towards the United States as a country. Globally, results show that a solid plurality of 48 per cent in 17 countries agree that a female president would fundamentally change their perceptions of the US (against 38% who disagree). This resembles results from a similarly-worded 2008 BBC poll question which asked the impact if Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president on respondents’ impression of the US. Though the poll does not specify whether this would be positively or negatively, it is noteworthy that the effect of a female president on external perceptions of the US would be strongest in developing countries, and particularly so among female respondents in China (74%), Nigeria and Peru (both 65%), and Indonesia and Kenya (both 54%).
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “Any US President would be very happy with such positive global ratings near the end of their tenure.”
The results are drawn from a telephone and in-person survey of 18,313 adult citizens across 19 participating countries in total. The poll was conducted for the BBC World Service between December 2, 2015 and May 4, 2016 by the international opinion research and consultancy firm GlobeScan and its national research partners. Within-country results are considered accurate within +/- 2.8 to 3.7 per cent 19 times out of 20. Urban-only samples were used in China, Indonesia, Kenya, and Turkey.
For more detaild findings, see below. For full methodology, question wording, and research partners, please see the drop-down links at the bottom of this article.
For media interviews, please contact:
- Stacy Rowland, Director, Public Relations and Communications, GlobeScan
- Direct: +1 416 992 2705
- Doug Miller, Chairman, GlobeScan
- Direct: +1 519 370 0300
- Mobile: +1 416 230 2231
- Lionel Bellier, Associate Director, GlobeScan
- Mobile: +44 (0) 789 601 1645
About BBC World Service
BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 166 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit bbcworldservice.com
In total 18,312 citizens in Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between December 2, 2015 and May 4, 2016. Polling was conducted by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.
In China, Indonesia, Kenya, and Turkey urban samples were used. Some questions were asked by half samples. The margin of error per country at full sample level ranges from +/- 2.8 to 3.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Sample Size (unweighted)
Type of sample
|Australia||802||February 29 – March 21, 2016||18+||Telephone||National|
|Canada||1020||March 7–24, 2016||18+||Telephone||National|
|Chile||1200||December 2, 2015 – January 5, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||National|
|China||1055||April 2–15, 2016||18+||Telephone||Urban1
|France||1055||February 22 – March 3, 2016||18+||Telephone||National|
|Germany||1001||February 4–18, 2016||16-70||Telephone||National|
|Ghana||1053||March 16 – April 12, 2016||18-65||Face-to-face||National|
|India||1269||March 15–30, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||National|
|Indonesia||1000||March 12–26, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||Urban2
|Kenya||1010||March 4–20, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||Urban3
|Nigeria||800||March 9–24, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||National|
|Pakistan||1000||February 19 – March 5, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||National|
|Peru||1205||March 14–27, 2016||18-70||Face-to-face||National|
|Russia||1020||March 9–21, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||National|
|South Korea||1000||March 20–24, 2016||19+||Telephone||National|
|Spain||815||February 29 – March 29, 2016||18+||Telephone||National|
|Turkey||995||April 15 – May 4, 2016||18+||Face-to-face||Urban4|
|United Kingdom||1005||February 22 – March 13, 2016||18+||Telephone||National|
|USA||1006||February 29 – March 13, 2016||18+||Telephone||National|
- In China the survey was conducted in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Kunming, Nanning, Shanghai, Shenyang, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi’an, Xining, and Zhengzhou, representing 14 per cent of the national adult population.
- In Indonesia the survey was conducted in Bandung, Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, and Surabaya, representing 27 per cent of the national adult population.
- In Kenya, the survey was conducted in seven out of the eight former administrative provinces targeting the 45 per cent of the adult population in urban and mixed settlements. The survey sample included urban populations in 30 counties representing 64 per cent of all counties. The counties included in the sample were: Bungoma, Busia, Embu, Kajiado, Kakamega, Kericho, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Kisumu, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Machakos, Marsabit, Meru, Migori, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, and Vihiga.
- In Turkey, the survey was conducted in Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, İstanbul, İzmir, Kayseri, Malatya, Samsun Trabzon, and Tekirdağ, representing 47 per cent of the national adult population.
+1 647 528 2767
+1 647 528 2767
|Chile||Mori Chile||Santiago||Marta Lagos
+56 2334 4544
+1 647 528 2767
|France||Efficience 3||Paris and Rheims||Thierry Laurain
+33 1 4316 5442
|Germany||Ri*QUESTA GmbH||Teningen||Bernhard Rieder
+49 7641 93 43 36
|Greece||MRB Hellas||Athens||Vivian Antonopoulou
+30210 6971000 /+306944 414756
|India||Team C Voter||Noida||Yashwant Deshmukh
+91 120 424 7135
|Indonesia||DEKA Marketing Research||Jakarta||Ratna Mulia Darmawan
+62 21 723 6901
|Kenya||Research Path Associates Ltd.||Nairobi||Charles Onsongo
+254 20 2734770
|Nigeria||Market Trends||Lagos||Jo Ebhomenye
+234 1734 7384
|Pakistan||Gallup Pakistan||Islamabad||Ijaz Shafi Gilani
+92 51 2655630
+511 215 0600
|Russia||CESSI Institute for Comparative Social Research||Moscow||Vladimir Andreenkov
+7 495 650 55 18
|South Korea||East Asia Institute||Seoul||Wonchil Chung
+82 2 2277 1683
|Spain||Sigma Dos Int.||Madrid||Petrana Valentinova
+34 91 360 0474
|Turkey||Yontem Research Consultancy Ltd||Istanbul||Mehmet Aktulga
+90 212 278 12 19
|United Kingdom||Populus Data Solutions||London||Patrick Diamond
+44 207 553 4148
+1 647 528 2767
M3A. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the election of a woman as US President would fundamentally change your perception of the United States? READ. CODE ONE.
M3B. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the election of a Hispanic American as US President would fundamentally change your perception of the United States? READ. CODE ONE.
M4t. As you may know, the American people elected Barack Obama as President in 2008 and again in 2012. In hindsight, do you think this was a very good choice, a somewhat good choice, a somewhat bad choice or a very bad choice? CODE ONLY ONE.
99 – Don’t know / no answer