Obama, Pope, Putin Top World Leaders: Poll

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

With the continually swelling roster of U.S. presidential hopefuls, it can sometimes seem as though there’s seldom a time when the United States isn’t in in the midst of a political campaign cycle.

As such, perhaps it’s not surprising to find that when asking Americans how they feel about 16 world leaders, the two who rise to the top are spiritual leaders rather than those in political roles.

Nearly three-fourths (73%, down slightly from 76% in May 2014) have a good opinion of Pope Francis, while over six in ten (62%, down from 68% in 2014) have a good opinion of the Dalai Lama.

This poll does not measure job ratings, but rather Americans’ positive or negative overall opinions toward these leaders.

These are the results of a Harris Poll conducted online among a total of 2,225 U.S. adults (18 and older) between May 20 and 26, 2015. The poll findings were released Tuesday.

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Turning to political leaders, half of Americans (50%, up from 45% last year) have a good opinion of British Prime Minister David Cameron and roughly half (49%, on par with last year) indicate the same for President Obama (whose job performance rating, incidentally, saw an increase vs. last month, from 38% to 41%).

Looking at some of the other heads of state, over four in ten Americans have a good opinion of Angela Merkel of Germany (45%, up from 43%) and nearly four in ten have a good opinion of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahou (37%, unchanged from last year).

Looking to the other end of the spectrum, majorities have poor opinions of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (75%) and Vladimir Putin of Russia (67%), while nearly half indicate the same for Hassan Rouhani of Iran (48%). In line with Americans’ generally divisive views of their own leaders, 45% indicate having a poor opinion of President Obama.

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Breaking Americans out by party affiliations, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to display positive opinions of The Dalai Lama (68% Dem vs. 59% Rep), Angela Merkel (49% vs. 41%), Francois Hollande of France (35% vs. 23%) and Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations (32% vs. 14%); it perhaps won’t come as a surprise that they’re also more likely to have a good opinion of President Obama (81% vs. 11%). Republicans, meanwhile, are more than twice as likely to have a positive opinion of Benjamin Netanyahou (56% Rep vs. 26% Dem).

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Looking more specifically at perceived influence on an international level, here President Obama rises to the top of the list: nearly three fourths of Americans (73%, up from 70% last year) indicate he has either a great deal of influence or some influence. Roughly two-thirds (66%, the same as last year) feel Pope Francis has a great deal or some influence, while 64% (also on par with last year) say the same of Vladimir Putin.

Other leaders believed by majorities of Americans to have a great deal or some influence at the international level are David Cameron (59%, marginally up from 58%), Benjamin Netanyahu (56%, up from 50% last year), Xi Jinping of China (unchanged at 53%), and Angela Merkel (52%, up from 50%).

Comparatively fewer Americans feel Brazil’s Spain’s or Italy’s leader are influential at the international level: one-fourth or fewer say Dilma Rousseff of Brazil (22%, up slightly from 22%), Mariano Rajoy Brey of Spain (23%, up from 20%) and Italy’s Matteo Renzi (25%, up from 23%) have a great deal or some influence on the international level.

Photo courtesy: White House

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