Obama More Popular Abroad Than at Home, Falls Among Muslims, Pew Poll Says

President Barack Obama is more popular abroad than he is at home, with confidence that he will act in the world’s interest remaining high in Western Europe while declining in many Muslim countries.

In its annual 22-nation survey of global attitudes, the Washington-based Pew Research Center finds that 90 percent of Germans, 87 percent of French and 84 percent of Britons have confidence that Obama will do the right thing in world affairs. In the U.S., 65 percent of those surveyed express similar confidence.

Obama’s domestic approval rating has declined from 64% in February 2009 to 47 percent in the latest poll, taken from April 15 to May 5.

The president “remains popular across much of the world,” according to a 172-page report that accompanied the data. “In five of six predominantly Muslim countries, however, more than half lack confidence in Obama.”

The exception is Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim- majority country, where 59 percent of the public gives him a positive rating. Obama, 48, may benefit from his personal connection to Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood, according to the poll. The president’s long-planned trip to Indonesia twice has been postponed, first because of the congressional debate on his health-care overhaul plan and then because of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama receives his lowest marks in Pakistan, with 8 percent approving of him. Those numbers improve slightly among two traditional Muslim-majority U.S. allies. In Turkey, he has a 23 percent approval and in Jordan, 23 percent.

‘Decidedly Negative’

“In the largely Muslim countries surveyed, with the exception of Indonesia, opinions of Barack Obama are decidedly negative, but they remain, for the most part, more positive than views of his predecessor, George W. Bush,” according to the Pew report.

The views of Obama have helped the status of the U.S. overseas. While attitudes toward the U.S. declined from last year, they remain higher than during Bush’s last year in office, when the U.S. favorability rating dropped to historic lows. Thirty-seven percent of residents of 22 countries expressed confidence that American would do the right thing in 2008. That number climbed to 74 percent in Obama’s first year, and dropped to 65 percent in 2010.

Sample sizes for the survey ranged from 750 in the U.K. to 3,262 in China, according to Pew. The margin of error for individual national polls ranged from plus or minus 2.5 percentage points to 4 percentage points.

To contact the reporters on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2@bloomberg.net;

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