Who’s Your Buddy? It’s Canada, Americans Say

February 20, 2014

America’s favorite foreign country is its neighbor to the north, according to a new Gallup World Affairs poll. The research firm says Americans’ opinions of several countries have shifted. Russia has slipped, for instance. And so has North Korea – the country is now alone in the “least favorable” category.

The drop for North Korea came as Iran edged upward, leaving the country run by Kim Jong-un as the one in the world Americans see with the least favorability, according to the Gallup poll. The two nations trail Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — all of which lost ground in the 2014 poll when compared to last year’s results.

The Gallup poll asks U.S. citizens to give their opinion of a list of foreign countries, rating them from very favorable to very unfavorable.

But in a different poll, in which Americans were asked an open-ended question to name the country they see as “the United States’ greatest enemy today,” China was the top answer, with 20 percentage points. North Korea and Iran were virtually tied for second.

That finding comes despite relatively favorable impressions of China. From Gallup:

“Americans in general view China much more positively than Iran, though on balance, still negatively. They may regard China’s emerging economic power to be as threatening, if not more so, than the potential military threats from Iran and North Korea.”

In the favorability poll, Russia recorded the steepest drop from year to year, losing 10 percentage points, fueled by attitudes about President Vladimir Putin, civil rights issues, and Russia’s offer of asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden (see Gallup’s recent separate poll on Russia here).

Russia now sits between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority on Gallup’s list of how favorably Americans see other countries.

From 2013 to 2014, Canada added to its already high rating, moving from 91 percentage points to 93. In the most recent poll, it’s followed by Great Britain, Germany, Japan and France.

Gallup says it conducted the poll earlier this month, by phoning more than 1,000 American adults on cellphones and landlines. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points, the company says.

We will note that the poll was carried out well before Thursday’s U.S.-Canada women’s hockey game, in which the rivals faced off for a gold medal in Sochi.

North Korea’s favorability rating among Americans might have fallen even more, had the poll been conducted after the release of a U.N. report that detailed “crimes against humanity.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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