martes, 7 de enero de 2020

Who’s Winning 2024?

It’s not too early to examine which future presidential candidates had the best 2019—and what to watch from them next.

Illustration by Charlie Powell


Just because you aren’t running for president right now doesn’t mean you’re not running for president at all. Anyone watching closely in 2019, and focusing their attention past the 2020 election, could see that the jockeying for 2024 has already begun.

Who had the best 2024 campaign this past year? There’s a lot we don’t know yet, like whether the next presidential campaign will be a contest to succeed a new Democratic administration, or to succeed eight years of Donald Trump. Will the 2020 Democratic primay establish a new consensus inside the party, or leave it trapped in its old arguments? Will the post-Trump Republican Party be desperate for a housecleaning, or will it crave another Trumpist candidate?

We do know that prospective candidates are already thinking that far ahead, trying to carve out distinct profiles for themselves. They haven’t decided when they’re going to run, but they’re wondering whether 2024 will be the right year.

Too early, you say? Never. While not obvious at the time, in retrospect, Trump’s 2011 promotion of the baseless conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in America laid the groundwork for his 2016 run. In more traditional fashion, Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address was the effective beginning of his successful 2008 campaign.

So which prospective candidates are winning the race for 2024 in 2019?

Vice President Mike Pence


The Vice

Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence is not the most captivating politician. He was the subject of two books this year that portrayed him as willing to sacrifice principle for ambition (in “American Carnage,” POLITICO’s Tim Alberta noted Pence’s “talent for bootlicking”). He endured speculation that Trump would dump him from the ticket.

But he won a public commitment from Trump, who said last month that Pence “is our man, 100 percent.” Assuming Trump keeps his word (which, granted, should never be assumed), Pence will have something no other Republican candidate in 2024 will have: the title of vice president. That’s no small thing.

Since 1960, nearly every sitting or former vice president who sought his party’s presidential nomination got it. The lone exception was Dan Quayle, an unusually unpopular vice president who dropped out of the 2000 campaign almost as soon as he jumped in. In 1972, Hubert Humphrey ran for the Democratic nomination and lost, but he had previously won it four years earlier, then lost the general election. Joe Biden isn’t a lock in 2020, but his VP status is the biggest reason why he has held the frontrunner position since he entered the race.

There’s plenty of speculation that Mike Pompeo wants to inherit the Trump mantle, but it’s hard to imagine a secretary of State (current or former, depending on how long Pompeo stays in his current job, and whether he runs for an open Senate seat in Kansas) boxing out a vice president in a presidential primary. The only time that’s happened was when Hillary Clinton kept Biden out of the 2016 race, and she was both a former first lady and the 2008 presidential primary runner-up.

Trump has a flair for the dramatic and a distaste for playing by old rules. If anyone is capable of making a capricious decision to replace a vice president, it is Trump. But he didn’t in 2019, and that was a win for Pence.

What to watch for in 2020: No president has booted a VP before a reelection campaign since Franklin D. Roosevelt did it by dumping John Nance Garner in 1940 and then Henry Wallace in 1944, both at the Democratic National Convention. (In 1975, an appointed vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, was forced to remove himself from consideration for the 1976 ticket by President Gerald Ford, who was running in his first presidential election.) Might Trump, in the interest of producing his finest reality TV show drama, wait until August’s Republican convention to introduce a new character?

Nikki Haley with President Donald Trump

The Tweeter

Nikki Haley

If you want to be on the inside track for 2024, the next best thing to being vice president is being the subject of rumors about replacing the vice president. Even if you have to crank the rumor mill yourself.

In late August, eight months out of her job in the Trump administration as ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley tweeted: “Enough of the false rumors. Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years … He has my complete support.” As there were no such widely discussed rumors at the time, Haley’s tweet served only to prompt new rumors. The White House tried to shut down the chatter immediately, directing presidential aide Kellyanne Conway to post on Twitter, “Trump-PENCE2020.” Three months later, the anonymous author of “A Warning” wrote, “On more than one occasion, Trump has discussed with staff the possibility of dropping Vice President Pence” and that “Haley was under active consideration to step in as vice president.” (This is what prompted Trump to say Pence is “our man.”)

Haley attracts attention because, as a former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor, she has one the best résumés in the Republican Party. And she is a rare woman of color in a party that struggles mightily to win the votes of women and minorities.

Haley spent 2019 trying to carefully calibrate a distinctive political profile in the embryonic field: a Republican who is loyal to Trump without always agreeing with Trump.

You could see this effort at work during Trump’s summer controversy over Baltimore, when the president tweeted that the city was a “rat and rodent infested mess” that had been failed by its congressman, Elijah Cummings, (who died in October). At first, Haley defended Trump from charges of racism on her Twitter feed: “Instead of all of this back and forth about who everyone thinks is racist and whose [sic] not, the President just offered to help the people of Baltimore. They should take him up on it.” But a few days later, when Trump posted a sarcastic tweet in response to news of an attempted intrusion of Cummings’ home, Haley posted a scolding reply: “This is so unnecessary.”

Similarly, in Haley’s new book, “With All Due Respect,” she largely defended Trump and revealed that she rebuffed the entreaties of then chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help them circumvent Trump on matters such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement. But she also put a little distance between herself and Trump on foreign relations. She wrote unequivocally, “The truth was the Russia did meddle in our elections.” She said she chided Trump to his face about his infamous Helsinki news conference, telling him that he “made it sound like we were beholden” to Russia. Yet she also said Trump appreciated her candor, and she charitably assessed his overall approach: “He was just trying to keep communication open with Putin, just as he did with Kim Jong Un and Chinese president Xi Jinping.”

Perhaps at some point, her attempts to please Republicans from all camps won’t withstand tough questioning. But for now, she ends 2019 indisputably on the 2024 short list.

What to watch for in 2020: She says Russia meddled in the 2016 elections. Will she call out any Russian meddling in 2020, and risk Trump’s Twitter wrath?

Senator Josh Hawley.

The Senator

Josh Hawley

Senators are notorious presidential wannabes, but the Senate is a flawed presidential launching pad. The longer you’re in it, the less you sound like a normal person. Since the beginning of the modern presidential primary system in 1972, only five of the 24 presidential nominees have been sitting senators, and only one became president. That guy, Barack Obama, made sure not to languish in the Senate for too long.

In that one respect, Missouri’s Josh Hawley may be the Republican Obama.

The youngest senator, who just turned 40 in his first year of office, has wowed conservative commentators with a series of speeches and bills that seek to evolve Trump’s crude conservative populism into a governing vision with a sustainable intellectual foundation.

He is not bound by traditional conservative orthodoxies. He’s crafted bipartisan legislation that would constrain the power of giant technology companies. In a November speech, he decried “market worship” and praised labor unions (along with “families and farm cooperatives [and] churches”) for fostering community.

He has not been afraid to step on Republican toes. He questioned whether Trump’s judicial nominee Neomi Rao was truly opposed to abortion rights (though he eventually supported her). He blamed both the “right and left” for having “steadily expanded America’s military involvement in every theater of the globe.” Breaking with Trump, he flew to Hong Kong to meet with protesters and denounced the Chinese government for making Hong Kong a “police state.”

“[N]o man is better positioned to shape the future of conservatism,” wrote Charles Fain Lehman at the Washington Examiner. The Daily Wire’s Josh Hammer dubbed Hawley “the most important freshman conservative since Ted Cruz.” Sen. Cruz appears to agree, writing in Time magazine: “Hawley embodies the best qualities the movement has to offer: impressive intellectual acumen and populist fire. Combined, these qualities make him a force to be reckoned with.”

Other senators are likely to run, too. Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, whose uber-hawkishness risks being out of place in a post-Trump GOP, rushed to The New York Times op-ed page to embrace the president’s musings about purchasing Greenland. Florida’s Marco Rubio, still trying to recover from his embarrassing showing in the 2016 presidential campaign, broke with libertarian economic principles in December and called for a “pro-American industrial policy.”

But no senator has intrigued Washington’s conservatives as much as Hawley. Of course, being the favorite of the conservative intellectual elite often does not translate into votes from Republican primary voters. But Hawley has productively spent 2019 distinguishing his vision and his priorities from his potential rivals, and that’s no small thing for a person who has been in the Senate for only one year.

What to watch for in 2020: Hawley has drawn attention for winning bipartisan support for some of his proposed technology industry regulations. But next year, can he actually get one of his ideas passed by Congress and signed into law?

President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Governor

Ron DeSantis

Remember when Republicans were so proud of their governors? That was back in 2014, when Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker were touted as principled, outside-the-Beltway problem-solvers. Now you can be forgiven if you struggle to name a Republican governor. In the age of Trump, experience seems quaint.

But one new Republican governor spent 2019 enacting popular conservative policies, while also deepening his relationship with Trump: Ron DeSantis of Florida.

During the 2018 campaign for Florida governor, his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, said of DeSantis in a televised debate, “The racists believe he's a racist.” DeSantis won that bitter contest by 3 points with slightly less than 50 percent of the vote. Today, DeSantis boasts a 65 percent approval rating, including 40 percent approval among Democrats.

Those solid numbers follow a year in which DeSantis whipped the state Legislature into passing several talk-radio friendly priorities: banning Florida cities from becoming so-called sanctuary cities, permitting teachers to carry guns in school and expanding the availability of school vouchers that can be used for private education.

And DeSantis has more than one gear. He has flashed an environmentalist streak. He vetoed legislation that would have prevented municipalities from banning plastic straws. He also has taken steps to address climate change, though he generally avoids using the phrase. He hired the state’s first chief resilience officer, tasked with, according to a release from the governor’s office, “preparing Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise.” He also named the state’s first chief science officer, who reports to the state’s secretary of environmental protection and works on climate-related impacts.

DeSantis is getting on Trump’s good side with another break from conservative orthodoxy: signing legislation to allow the importation of prescription drugs. The plan requires federal approval, which DeSantis got in December from the Health and Human Services Department, after going over the heads of skeptics inside the administration and appealing directly to Trump. Both the governor and the president clearly believe the issue is a political winner in the senior-heavy state.

In an October appearance in Florida, Trump praised DeSantis: “If he was doing a lousy job, I probably wouldn’t have shown up today. But he is doing one of the best jobs in the whole country.” Don’t be surprised if you hear those words in a 2024 campaign ad.

What to watch for in 2020: DeSantis says he wants 2020 to be “the year of the teacher” and has proposed spending $600 million to boost the minimum salary of full-time teachers in Florida. But the state’s teachers union wants $2.4 billion for school improvements and an across-the-board pay hike. Can he pull off a compromise and burnish his pragmatist credentials?

Donald Trump, Jr.

The Scion

Don Jr.

The slapdash book “Triggered” may be a transparent effort by the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., to set himself up as the literal heir apparent. The Republican National Committee may have awkwardly tried to help him along by buying $100,000 worth of copies of the book. But that doesn’t mean the strategy is not working.

While his sister Ivanka has earned a reputation as an ineffectual inside player who is ideologically out of step with her father and the Republican Party, Junior has been a caustic, partisan warrior on social media, and a rock star on the campaign trail for his father and congressional candidates. When speaking at a San Antonio event in October, a shout of “2024!” was heard from the crowd. One attendee told a reporter, “He’s just like his father and I can’t wait to vote for him someday too.”

That Trump voters would be intrigued by Trump Jr. should surprise no one.
If Republican voters had a problem with a man born into wealth styling himself as a man of the people by lobbing verbal bombs at liberals and media figures, then Donald Trump, Sr., wouldn’t be president.

What to watch for in 2020: Will we see Donald Trump, Jr., get a prime-time speaking slot at the 2020 convention? Will we see the crowd launch into a “2024” chant? And if Pence does get dumped from the ticket, would Trump, Sr., replace him with someone who disavows interest in running for the presidency, making it easier to keep the Oval Office in the family?

Drew Angerer

The Wild Card

Donald Trump

Maybe Junior will have to wait. If the incumbent loses this year, he would remain constitutionally eligible to run in 2024. And the elder Trump is not one to slink quietly away after a defeat.

No president booted out of office after one term has even tried to mount a comeback since Grover Cleveland pulled it off in 1892. Party faithful are quick to bury their defeated, usually making the mere thought of renomination laughable. But Trump may retain a firmer grip on his party’s base than did George H.W. Bush or Jimmy Carter.

If Trump loses in November, some Democrats fear that Trump would unconstitutionally refuse to abandon the White House. But perhaps the greater fear should be held among the Republicans who want to succeed him: that he does follow the Constitution but refuses to abandon center stage.

What to watch for in 2020: Donald Trump filed his reelection campaign with the Federal Election Commission on the day of his inauguration in 2017, immediately squelching any doubt that he wasn’t serious about sticking around. If he loses on Nov. 3, 2020, does he file for 2024 on Nov. 4?

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


The Socialist


The most significant endorsement of 2019 was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s October endorsement of Bernie Sanders for president. While she can’t take credit for all that followed, since Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Sanders, Elizabeth Warren fell from potential frontrunner back to third place, while Sanders has risen to second place nationally and leads some New Hampshire polls.

Ocasio-Cortez’s move solidified the democratic socialist strain in the Democratic Party, keeping it distinct from Warren’s capitalist brand of progressive populism, and positioned herself to carry the movement’s torch when the 78-year-old Sanders retires. She followed up her endorsement with a tour of Iowa on behalf of Sanders. And Sanders returned the favor with a digital video ad of the tour that at times felt more like a spot for AOC 2024 than for Bernie 2020.

Whether the big-d Democratic Party will want to embrace small-d democratic socialism depends on developments that cannot be foreseen, especially this one: Which ideological faction will the 2020 Democratic nominee represent, and how will that person fare in the general election against Trump? But no matter what happens in 2020, Ocasio-Cortez has made it clear that the democratic socialists are not going anywhere, and that she is prepared to lead them. If she is ready to run in 2024, there will be a movement behind her.

The Bronx-born 30-year old would be just barely constitutionally eligible for the presidency. You have to be 35 when you take office, a bar she would pass in October 2024. But the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, who turns 38 in a couple weeks, has reset the meter for what’s considered old enough to be a serious presidential candidate.

What to watch for in 2020: Ocasio-Cortez has said she will support the Democratic nominee no matter who it is. But if Sanders is not the choice of the party, how much political capital would she be willing to spend in order to corral skeptical socialists behind the Democratic presidential candidate? And if she does stump hard for the nominee, does her reputation as an anti-establishment warrior suffer among the activist left?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Big Blue Governors

Cuomo and Newsom

The two biggest Democratic states have two governors with big personalities and big aspirations for the White House: New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom. Each is blessed with Democratic legislatures that helped them to pass a slew of progressive legislation in 2019. Both enacted rent control. Cuomo signed bills offering student financial aid and drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants, and Newsom signed a bill providing health insurance to undocumented low-income adults under 26.

Both also fought directly with Trump. Cuomo approved a bill that would let the U.S. House get its hands on Trump’s state tax returns. Newsom is resisting Trump’s attempt to strip California of its authority to set its own emissions standards for cars, even striking his own regulatory agreement with certain carmakers and refusing to buy cars from those who didn’t oblige.

Despite their achievements, neither is receiving universal love from progressive activists. Cuomo seems to go out of his way to needle the New York left; most recently, his appointees are moving to make it much harder for third parties, including the left-wing Working Families Party, to get on the ballot. Newsom stepped on the toes of some unions by pledging to negotiate with big tech companies on how to implement a bill designed to protect gig economy workers. But as the 2020 Democratic primary has shown, angering the activist left isn’t necessarily disqualifying to many Democratic voters.

What to watch for in 2020: Cuomo faces a $6 billion budget gap largely driven by rising health care costs. In a matter of days, he will have to detail how he plans to balance the 2020 budget, and any proposed spending cuts or tax increases could spark new controversies that may complicate his future political plans.

Newsom, meanwhile, faces two huge problems without easy answers: a growing homelessness crisis (about one quarter of the nation’s homeless lives in California) and a bankrupt utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, that has contributed to the state’s wildfire crisis and now shuts off electricity in response to extreme heat and wind in an attempt to prevent future fires. In December, Newsom rejected a PG&E-proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, and he still must decide whether he wants the state to take over the company. Either of these complex issues could undercut Newsom’s attempt to be seen as an effective problem-solver.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

The Big Bluegrass Governor

Andy Beshear

Andy Beshear won the biggest upset in 2019 politics by ousting incumbent Matt Bevin from the Kentucky governor’s mansion. Bevin was perhaps the most Trump-like governor in the country, in a state that voted for Trump by 30 points. Beshear beat him by focusing on health care, and by opposing Bevin’s attempt to impose stringent work requirements on the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

The new governor began his tenure with a bold executive order, extending voting rights to more than 140,000 ex-felons. (Kentucky imposes a lifetime voting ban on ex-felons, but the governor has the power to issue exemptions.)

Unlike the other red-state Democratic gubernatorial success story of the year, Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards, Beshear supports abortion rights, though he backs restrictions on late-term procedures. To win in Kentucky, Beshear didn’t have to run so far to the right that he can’t be viable in a national Democratic presidential primary. At the same time, Beshear can argue that by not running too far to the left—he didn’t back projects like single-payer health insurance and free college—he has proven he can compete on red turf.

Being a red-state governor doesn’t provide a glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination: ask Montana’s Steve Bullock about that. A major challenge is Republican legislators who make it hard for a Democratic governor to build a record of accomplishment. Kansas’ Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, is still cajoling legislators to win support for Medicaid expansion. Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, had her proposed 45-cent gas tax hike for road repairs rebuffed. If any of the red-state Democrats want to run for president in 2024, they will need to find a way to squeeze some successes from their legislatures.

What to watch for in 2020: The Republican-led Kentucky Legislature is already looking to put a bill on Beshear’s desk that would prevent cities in the state from becoming sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Does Beshear veto that, or ideologically similar legislation, in order to preserve his viability for a 2024 Democratic presidential primary? Or does he capitulate on some conservative issues in hopes of gaining Republican support for the new revenue he needs to pay for his Kentucky agenda?

Former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams.

The Great Southern Hope

Stacey Abrams

In 2018, Democrats hoped Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Beto O’Rourke in Texas would show how demographic changes and energetically progressive campaigns can paint red states blue. Both won praise for their near-misses, but each handled the new fame differently.

O’Rourke rushed into a presidential campaign and had his political future crushed under the weight of unread dentist-office copies of Vanity Fair. Abrams merely teased a presidential run before throwing her energies into a new voting rights organization. In so doing, Abrams has maintained a national profile without suffering back-to-back losses in quick succession.

Still, Abrams would in all likelihood need to win some political office in the next four years to be considered a plausible 2024 presidential candidate. In 2022, she could run for governor again, likely a rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp. Or, if Democrats don’t win this year’s special election, she could pursue the Senate. But she’d have to win this time. As O’Rourke proved, being a lovable loser gets you only so far.

What to watch for in 2020: Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight Action, is spearheading a “Fair Fight 2020” initiative, intended to thwart voter suppression efforts in 20 battleground states. Will it be effective? In December, Fair Fight Action lost in federal court, at the hands of an Obama-appointed judge, when it tried to stop Georgia from purging inactive voters from the state rolls. She will likely need tangible successes in 2020 if she is to maintain her national profile.

miércoles, 18 de diciembre de 2019

China’s Economic Growth Mostly Welcomed in Emerging Markets, but Neighbors Wary of Its Influence

Investors at the Shanghai Stock Exchange in June. A median of 58% in Asia-Pacific nations surveyed say Chinese investment gives China too much influence in their country. (Wang Gang/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

China has emerged as a global economic superpower in recent decades. It is not only the world’s second largest economy and the largest exporter by value, but it has also been investing in overseas infrastructure and development at a rapid clip as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that, particularly in emerging markets, publics largely have a positive view of China’s economic stature. People generally see China’s growing economy as a good thing for their country and believe China is having a predominantly positive influence on their country’s economic affairs.

But, even while China’s rise is largely perceived as positive in emerging economies, there are pockets of discontent. First, even in the nations that welcome China’s economic growth, few feel similarly about its growing military might. Rather, most tend to view China’s growing military as something bad for their own countries. Second, China’s neighbors generally take a much more negative stance toward China’s military and economic growth than other countries surveyed. For example, in the Asia-Pacific region, more tend to see investment from China as a potential liability, giving Beijing too much influence over their economies. These same countries are also more likely than others to see U.S. economic influence in their country positively. And, when it comes to developed countries, views of China are much more mixed to negative. Generally, countries with stronger human rights records and lower levels of corruption tend to be much less keen on China.

When it comes to comparisons with the United States, generally speaking, China’s economic influence is seen in similar or even slightly more positive terms. Most publics are about equally sanguine about the state of their country’s bilateral economic relations with China and the U.S. Majorities in most nations also say both the U.S. and China have a great deal or a fair amount of influence on their country’s economic conditions. But, when rating that influence, more people say China’s is positive than say the same of the U.S.

Which countries are included and which are excluded?

More still name the U.S. as the foremost economic power than say the same of China. For example, across every country surveyed in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as many in the Asia-Pacific, people name the U.S. as the top economy. In the U.S., by a 50%-32% margin, Americans name their own country as the leading economic power, though there are stark partisan differences in these evaluations, with Republicans and Republican-leaning independents being more likely to name the U.S. than Democrats.

Most also prioritize relations with the United States – though this opinion is colored by perceptions of which economy is stronger. People who name the U.S. as the world’s leading economy are more likely to prefer strong economic ties with the U.S., and the opposite is true when it comes to China. And, when it comes to alliances, many more name the U.S. as the top country their nation can rely on than China.

These are among the major findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 38,426 people in 34 countries from May 13 to Oct. 2, 2019.
More countries see U.S. as a top ally than China

In many countries surveyed, the United States is viewed as an important ally. In Israel, 82% name the U.S. as the country they can most rely on as a dependable ally in the future. Across the Asia-Pacific region, around two-thirds or more cite the U.S. as a top ally in Japan (63%), the Philippines (64%) and South Korea (71%). In fact, in every country surveyed, more name the U.S. than China – though opinion is relatively divided in several countries.

When it comes to which countries are most threatening, though, both the U.S. and China emerge as top concerns across the publics surveyed – though largely in different regions. Across many of the Latin American as well as Middle East and North African countries surveyed, more name the U.S. as a top threat than say the same of China. The opposite is largely true in the Asia-Pacific countries, where many more name China as a top threat, including 40% of Australians, 50% of Japanese and 62% of Filipinos. These countries are also among those that are most likely to say China’s growing military is a bad thing for their country – though a median of 58% across the 18 countries polled generally see downsides to a strengthening Chinese military. (For more on this, see “U.S. is seen as a top ally in many countries – but others view it as a threat.”)
Most say economic relations with the U.S. and with China are positive

Across 17 countries, a median of 66% say their country’s current economic relations with China are good. Similarly high numbers (a median of 64%) also rate current U.S. economic relations with their countries favorably. In fact, in most countries polled, majorities say current relations with each of the superpowers are good. For example, 85% in Australia say U.S.-Australian economic relations are in good shape, while 80% say the same of Sino-Australian ones.

In several countries people are likely to evaluate current economic relations with one superpower positively, while seeing the other in more negative terms. One such country, Canada, is currently embroiled in trade tensions with China; people there evaluate current economic relations with China 20 percentage points less positively than those with the U.S. (even as trade negotiations over the USMCA continue on). Countries on China’s periphery – including the Philippines, South Korea and Japan – also view current economic relations with the U.S. much more positively than relations with China. In some of the Middle East and North African countries surveyed, the opposite is true. For example, only 42% of Lebanese say current economic relations with the U.S. are good, compared with 82% who say the same of China.

When it comes to whether the U.S. or China is having a positive or negative influence on each country’s economic conditions, though, publics on balance are somewhat more approving of China’s impact. A median of 48% say China is having a positive impact on economic conditions in their country, compared with 42% who say the same of the U.S.

In Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, more tend to rate China’s influence positively than say the same of the U.S. – even in countries where both countries’ roles are seen positively overall. One such example is Nigeria, where 69% say China’s economic influence is positive and 49% say the same of the U.S. Most Asia-Pacific countries, however, tend to say American economic influence is more positive than China’s.
International views of China vary greatly, colored by economic attitudes

Global views of China are, on balance, mixed. A median of 40% across 34 countries surveyed have a favorable view of China, while a median of 41% have an unfavorable view. But opinion varies considerably across the nations surveyed, from a high of 71% in Russia to a low of 14% in Japan.

Among a subset of 15 countries that were asked questions about global economic engagement in general and Chinese investment in particular, statistical modeling results indicate that views of China are related to these economic attitudes (for a more detailed explanation, see Appendix).

Views of China’s economic strength play a role in overall evaluations of China. Generally speaking, saying that China is the world’s leading economic power, that China’s growing economy is good for one’s own country, that current bilateral economic relations with the superpower are in good shape or that China’s economic influence is good for one’s country is associated with more positive views toward China, holding other factors constant. But having a higher percentage of imports coming from China is related to more negative views of China.

Greater economic satisfaction and openness to international investment are also related to more favorable views of China. Those who are more satisfied with their own domestic economy tend to have more positive opinions of China. Additionally, those who see it as a good thing when foreign companies buy domestic companies in their country or when foreign companies build domestic companies in their country tend to be more positively disposed toward China.
Few express confidence in President Xi

Views of Chinese President Xi Jinping are, on balance, negative across the 34 countries surveyed. A median of 45% say they lack confidence in him when it comes to world affairs, compared with a median of 29% who say they trust him to do the right thing. But opinions vary widely across regions. In the U.S., Canada and Western Europe, half or more in almost all countries say they have no confidence in Xi, whereas confidence is much higher in all three sub-Saharan African countries surveyed and tends to be higher in several of the Middle East and North African countries surveyed.

In the six Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, most have little confidence in Xi Jinping when it comes to world affairs. Just 29% have confidence in him to do what is right, which falls far short of the ratings for Japan’s Shinzo or India’s Narendra Modi. And in the Philippines, Indonesia, India and South Korea, nearly equal numbers have confidence in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as in Xi.

Still, positive opinions of Xi have increased in many countries over recent years. Just since 2018, for example, confidence in him has increased markedly in Italy (up 10 percentage points), Mexico (up 13 points), Spain (+13) and Argentina (+14). Only in South Korea has confidence in him fallen by double digits since 2018, decreasing 12 points.
Regional spotlight: Asia-Pacific stands out for more negative attitudes toward China, its role

People in the Asia-Pacific region are generally negative in their views of China, and attitudes in many surveyed countries there have grown more negative in recent years. These countries are more critical of investment from China. Roughly half or more in each Asia-Pacific nation surveyed say Chinese investment is a bad thing because it gives China too much influence, ranging from 48% of Indonesians to 75% of Japanese. South Korea and Indonesia stand out as two countries in which fewer today see benefits from China’s growing economy than said the same five years ago.

China’s neighbors are especially wary of its military growth. A median of 79% across the region say China’s growing military strength is bad for their country, including nine-in-ten in Japan and South Korea. This depth of concern with China’s growth is mirrored in the relative primacy these countries place on their relations with the United States. In each country in the region, more name the U.S. as their most dependable ally than any other country in an open-ended question, including around two-thirds or more in Japan (63%), the Philippines (64%) and South Korea (71%). Each country in the region also prefers strong economic ties with the U.S. (a median of 64%) rather than China (26%) – and often by a wide margin. In Australia and South Korea, this is a reversal of 2015 opinion, when more preferred close economic relations with China.

Rubén Weinsteiner

Views of the balance of power between U.S. and China

The United States is named as the top economic power in 21 of the 34 countries surveyed, while China is considered the top economy in 12 (the U.S. and China are tied as top economic power in Lebanon). Still, publics are relatively divided, as no more than half name either country as the top economy in most countries. And few consider Japan or the countries of the European Union as the leading economic power.

Generally, most non-European countries see the United States as the world’s leading economic power, while those in Europe tend to name China. For example, in the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, a median of 46% say the U.S. is the top economy, while a 25% median say the same about China. Across many of these countries, too, there is little ambiguity about which country is dominant, with double-digit differences between the shares who choose the U.S. and who choose China as the top economy. This is most extreme in South Korea, where there is a 70 percentage point difference between those who cite American economic supremacy (82%) and Chinese dominance (12%). South Koreans are also more likely to name the U.S. as the world’s leading economy this year compared with last year (up 15 percentage points). Within the region, Indonesians and Australians stand out for being more likely to choose China as the leading global economy, though Indonesians are somewhat divided (21% U.S., 24% China) and about as many of them name Japan (22%) as the leading economy.

Across the Middle East and North Africa, majorities or pluralities consider the U.S. to be the world’s leading economy. In Israel, six-in-ten hold this view, and about half say the same in Turkey and Tunisia (49% and 47%, respectively). The U.S. and China are tied in Lebanon, with a third naming each as the top economy. In Tunisia and Israel, the belief that the U.S. is the dominant economic power grew by double digits from 2018 (up 12 and 10 points, respectively).

Likewise, more see the U.S. than China as the top economy in all three sub-Saharan African countries surveyed, though the publics are largely divided. In Nigeria and South Africa, the tendency to name the U.S. is a departure from last year, when more in both countries named China as the world’s top economic power.

The U.S. remains the top choice for all three Latin American countries surveyed. However, roughly a third still name China as the top economy in Mexico and Argentina, and this share has gone up by 6 percentage points in Argentina since 2018.

Only in Europe do more countries name China as the world’s leading economy. A median of 41% across the 14 EU member nations surveyed name China, compared with a median of 39% who say the same about the United States. China’s lead over the U.S. is especially clear in Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and France, where people are at least 10 percentage points more likely to see China as the leading economy. In France, the share that views China as the top economic power has increased by 7 percentage points since 2018, flipping the top choice from the U.S. to China. Spaniards, Swedes and Bulgarians are more muted, with about 5-point differences in their evaluations of the two economies. Those in the UK are about equally likely to point to China or the U.S. as the top economy (42% vs. 41%). In five European countries that have consistently been asked which economy is strongest over the past decade – France, Germany, Spain, the UK and Poland – China has come out on top more often than not.

Still, Lithuanians are 23 percentage points more likely to see the U.S. as the top economy. Poles and Slovaks are also at least 10 points more likely to choose the U.S. over China. Greeks, Italians, and Hungarians similarly evaluate the U.S. economy as more powerful than the Chinese economy, but by a slimmer margin (5 points in all three countries).

Opinions in Russia and Ukraine are divided. Ukrainians say the U.S. is dominant by a margin of 22 points, while Russians choose China by 33 points. For Russians, this is a 14-point increase in the share who chose China in 2018, and a continuation of a steady upward trend in the share that see China as the world’s leading economy.
Majorities in most countries see both U.S. and China heavily influencing their domestic economies

Majorities in most countries surveyed say China has a substantial amount of influence on the economic affairs of their countries. Across the 16 nations asked, a median of 63% say China has a great deal or fair amount of influence.1

In the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, South Koreans, Japanese and Australians are especially likely to say China has a great deal or fair amount of influence on their country’s economy, with about nine-in-ten or more holding this opinion. Lebanon also stands out in the Middle East, as 85% say China has at least a fair amount of influence on Lebanese economic conditions.

Roughly three-quarters in Kenya and Nigeria say the same, while about six-in-ten see at least a fair amount of Chinese influence on their domestic economies in the three Latin American countries surveyed.

Across these same 16 countries, a median of 75% say the U.S. has a great deal or fair amount of influence on economic conditions in their country, compared with a median of 19% who say it has little or no influence.

Perceived influence is highest in South Korea (96%), Japan (94%) and Israel (88%), and lowest in Indonesia – the only country where fewer than half (45%) say the U.S. plays a large role in their economic affairs.

When comparing the two superpowers, by a slim margin, more people in the Asia-Pacific region say China plays a large role in their country’s economic conditions (six-country median of 78%) than say the same of the U.S. (74%). But in South Korea and Japan, upwards of nine-in-ten say both superpowers have a great deal of influence. Indians and Filipinos are about 10 percentage points more likely to see American influence on their economies, while those in Australia are 18 points more likely to see China’s muscle.

All three sub-Saharan African publics surveyed are more likely to see Chinese economic influence, with about a 10-point difference in Nigeria and South Africa. Conversely, those in Latin America are more likely to see influence from the U.S.

And, in the Middle East and North Africa, those in Israel and Turkey are more likely to identify influence from the U.S., with a difference of about 20 points or more. Those in Lebanon and Tunisia are about as likely to say the U.S. or China have a great deal or fair amount of influence.
More describe Chinese influence on economy as positive than say the same of U.S. influence

People who said that China or the U.S. had at least some influence on economic conditions of their country were also asked to rate that influence as either positive of negative.

In Asia-Pacific countries, evaluations of Chinese influence are fairly divided; Australians, Filipinos and Indonesians are more likely to see Chinese influence as positive than negative, while Japanese, South Koreans and Indians identify Chinese influence as more negative than positive.

Opinions in the Middle East and North Africa are also conflicted. Those in Israel and Lebanon are much more likely to see the Chinese impact on economic conditions in their country as positive. Tunisians also see Chinese influence as more positive than negative, but by a smaller margin. Turks more frequently see Chinese influence negatively.

Opinions elsewhere are more clear-cut. Majorities in the sub-Saharan African countries surveyed say Chinese influence is positive, especially in Nigeria, where about seven-in-ten hold this opinion. About four-in-ten or more see Chinese influence positively in the Latin American nations surveyed as well.

Substantial minorities in most countries did not offer any opinion of China’s influence.

When it comes to American influence, evaluations are somewhat less positive; a median of 42% rate it positively, while 34% say the U.S. is having more of a negative influence on economic conditions in their country.

Those in the Asia-Pacific region are more likely than not to describe U.S. economic influence in their country in positive terms. This is most true in the Philippines, where 65% say the U.S. is having a positive influence on their economic conditions and 25% say the U.S. is having a negative influence – a difference of 40 percentage points. Indians, Indonesians and South Koreans are also much more likely to see the U.S. influence as positive than negative. Only in Australia do more say the U.S. has a negative influence (46%) than a positive one (38%). Japanese are relatively divided on the issue, with 42% citing positive influence and 39% negative.

Across the Middle East and North African countries surveyed, most publics are more likely to see U.S. economic influence unfavorably, even as Israelis almost uniformly describe America’s role as good (82% positive). In Turkey especially, about three-quarters say the U.S. has a negative influence on their domestic economic conditions. Those in Lebanon and Tunisia are at least 20 points more likely to see the influence as negative.

More in the three sub-Saharan countries surveyed say the U.S. has a positive economic influence than say it has a negative influence. Still, substantial minorities of around one-in-five or more describe it negatively. And opinion is mixed in the three Latin American countries surveyed, with Brazilians largely describing the American role favorably (44%) and Argentines and Mexicans saying the opposite (55% and 46% negative, respectively).

When directly comparing the perceived positive influence from the U.S. and China, outside of the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese economic influence is largely seen in more positive terms than American influence. For example, across three of the Middle East and North African countries surveyed, people are substantially more likely to describe China’s role in their economy in positive terms than they are America’s role. In Lebanon, about twice as many say China is having a good influence (50%) than say the same of the U.S. (26%). Most in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, too, describe Chinese influence positively, even as substantial numbers in most countries also see U.S. influence positively.

But, in much of the Asia-Pacific region, people are more likely to evaluate the U.S. economic influence positively than the Chinese, or at least to see them comparably. Only in Australia and Indonesia do more say China’s influence is good than say the same about the U.S. But, in Indonesia, China’s influence is seen more positively by a very thin margin.

Favorable views of Chinese economic influence are more common among those who think their country has good economic ties with China and those who prefer a close economic relationship to China. Those who feel similarly toward the U.S. are also more likely to see U.S. economic influence as good.
Most say current economic relations with both China and U.S. are good

When it comes to the current state of economic relations with China, publics are much more likely to describe them as good (median of 66%) than bad (21%). Outside of Canada, the U.S. and some of the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, around half or more in every other country see current economic ties positively.

In the wake of major trade disputes and political tensions with China, around half in both the U.S. and Canada describe current bilateral economic relations as poor. In South Korea and Japan, too, 66% and 51%, respectively, say relations are negative.

In the Middle East and North Africa, majorities in all except Turkey say the economic relationship between their country and China is going well. Even in Turkey, about half say the relationship is positive.

Likewise, majorities in the sub-Saharan African and Latin American countries surveyed also rate their economic relationship with China positively.

Most also say current economic relations with the United States are going well; a median of 64% say relations are in good shape, compared with 23% who say the opposite.

This sense is highest among Israelis, 96% of whom say American-Israeli economic ties are positive. The other Middle East and North African countries surveyed are the only countries where fewer than half say relations are currently positive. This is especially true in Turkey, where about two-thirds said economic ties between their country and the U.S. were bad, even before the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Turkey in October.

Across the Asia-Pacific region, six-in-ten or more in each country say their economic ties to the U.S. are currently good. Around three-quarters or more take this position in India (74%), Australia (85%) and the Philippines (89%).

Attitudes in the sub-Saharan African countries surveyed are also positive, with roughly seven-in-ten or more in each country saying relations are positive. Opinions in the Latin American countries surveyed are similar, though less effusive; fewer than two-thirds in all three countries say their economic ties with the U.S. are positive, and substantial minorities say the ties are bad.

Canadians also have tempered evaluations, with about two-thirds saying that ties are good and about a third disagreeing.

And, when comparing economic ties to the U.S. and to China, many publics have a sanguine view of their current economic relationship with both superpowers. More than two-thirds in each of the sub-Saharan African countries surveyed describe current economic ties with both China and the U.S. as good, and around half or more say the same in each of the Latin American countries surveyed.

In the Asia-Pacific region, ties with the U.S. are more frequently rated as good in India, South Korea and Japan. Majorities in those countries see economic relations with the U.S. positively, while only minorities say the same of China. The difference is especially pronounced in India, where nearly three-quarters say they have a good economic relationship with the U.S. and about four-in-ten say the same about China, a difference of 35 percentage points.

This pattern is reversed in the Middle East and North Africa, where all publics but Israel rate their economic relationships with China more positively. This is especially true in Lebanon, where there is a 40-point difference between the share who say their ties with the U.S. are good and the share who say ties with China are good. Only in Israel do more say ties to the U.S. are good, and even there, eight-in-ten still see their economic ties with China positively.
Stronger economic ties to U.S. preferred

Sixteen publics were asked whether they prefer stronger economic ties with the U.S. or China. On balance, more prefer for their country to have closer relations with the U.S. (a median of 46%) than China (32%). Opinions are unified in the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, with greater shares in all six preferring strong U.S. economic ties. Those in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and India especially prefer ties with the U.S.; they are more likely to choose relations with the U.S. over China by about 40 percentage points or more. For Australians and South Koreans, this year’s results are a reversal from opinions in 2015, when more preferred strong economic ties with China.

For the four Middle East and North African countries surveyed, opinions are mixed. Those in Turkey and Israel say strong ties with the U.S. are more important, and those in Lebanon and Tunisia say close economic ties with China are more important. Still, substantial minorities in Lebanon and Israel volunteer that strong ties with both are more important, and about two-thirds in Tunisia say the same.

In the sub-Saharan African countries surveyed, only those in Nigeria would rather have strong economic ties with China than with the U.S. About three-in-ten in Nigeria also volunteer that strong ties with both are more important. Argentines are the only public of the three Latin American countries surveyed that chooses ties with China over ties with the U.S., though by only a 2-point margin.

Preferences for strong economic ties with the U.S. or China differ based on perceptions of economic power. Those who say China is the world’s leading economic power are more likely to prefer strong economic ties with China, and vice versa. In Lebanon, for example, those who say China is the world’s leading economic power are 62 percentage points more likely than those who think the U.S. is the top economy to want strong economic ties with China.

Likewise, those with favorable views of China are more likely to choose strong economic ties with China in most countries. Favorable views of Chinese investment and China’s growing military power are also tied to a preference for ties with China.

Rubén Weinsteiner

Attitudes toward China

Around the globe, people are divided in their opinions of China. A median of 40% across 34 countries surveyed have a favorable view of China, while a median of 41% have an unfavorable opinion. The country’s most positive ratings come from Russia (71% favorable), Nigeria (70%) and Lebanon (68%). The most negative views are found in Japan (85% unfavorable), Sweden (70%) and Canada (67%). (For more information on global views of China, see “People around the globe are divided in their opinions of China.”)

In Canada and the United States, the increase in unfavorable views this year represents the largest year-over-year change since the question was first posed in 2005. In Canada, unfavorable opinions increased 22 percentage points in the wake of the high-profile arrest of technology company Huawei’s chief financial officer and the ensuing Chinese detainment of two Canadian nationals who still remain in Chinese custody, while in the U.S. unfavorable opinions increased 13 points.

Age is a factor in how people view China. In 19 countries, those ages 18 to 29 are more likely than those ages 50 and older to hold a favorable view of China.

In 19 countries, those who say their national economic situation is good have a more positive outlook on China. In Lithuania, 55% of those who grade their economy as good have a favorable view of China; just 33% of those who say the economy is in poor shape share that opinion, a 22-point gap. Similarly large differences exist in Hungary (19 points), Slovakia (17), South Korea (17), Israel (16), Ukraine (16), Kenya (15) and South Africa (15).

Views of China tend to be most negative in countries with the highest per capita gross domestic product, including the U.S., Netherlands, Sweden and Germany. At the opposite end of the spectrum, countries with lower GDP per capita are less negative – including Kenya, Nigeria, Ukraine and Tunisia. Japan stands out as being much more negative toward China than other nations with similar levels of wealth, and this may be partially attributed to long-standing historical grievances between the two nations.

The relationship between GDP per capita and unfavorable views of China may be due in part to the relative political freedoms in these countries, as views of China are also closely related to citizens’ enjoyment of their rights. Previous Center research on China illustrated a strong relationship between global views of China and perceptions about the state of civil liberties domestically for Chinese citizens, and a similar pattern continues beyond China’s borders. Countries whose citizens have more freedoms, as measured by Freedom House, tend to have less favorable views of China. For example, Russia’s aggregate Freedom House score is 20 on a 100-point scale, the lowest among the countries included in the survey, but Russians give China the highest favorable rating (71%). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sweden receives a perfect 100 from Freedom House, while just 25% of Swedes have positive views of China.

Similarly, the higher a country’s perceived level of corruption, as designated by Transparency International, the more favorably that nation tends to view China. Nigerians, for instance, fare the worst on the corruption scale among the countries included in this survey. Meanwhile, 70% of Nigerians have a favorable view of China, second only to Russians. But both the level of civil liberties and corruption within a country closely track with overall GDP per capita.

In contrast, investment from China is only weakly related to views of China across the countries included in this survey. Despite pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the Belt and Road Initiative, especially in emerging economies, the size of capital investments or construction contracts funded by Beijing in a country is only weakly related to that country’s overall views of China. Indonesia, for example, has received more than $47 billion for capital investment and construction projects from China since 2005, but attitudes toward China in the country are split evenly, with 36% favorable and 36% unfavorable. On the other hand, China has sent Nigeria $44 billion in the same time, and 70% of Nigerians view China favorably.

Countries that receive more exports from China tend to have more negative views of China, though this measure is also strongly associated with GDP per capita. The U.S. and Japan receive the most exports from China among the countries surveyed, and they also have much more negative views of China overall. And while Lebanon, Tunisia and Bulgaria receive relatively few Chinese exports, majorities in these countries view China in a positive light.
Economic ties with China welcomed in many emerging markets, but some concerns over Beijing’s influence

Across 18 countries, more people think China’s growing economy is a good thing than a bad thing for their country. Overall, a median of 55% see benefits to a strong Chinese economy; 30% say it is bad for their country.

More Canadians and Americans see themselves benefiting from China’s economy than not, though 41% in both countries think this is negative. Majorities in Australia and Japan think a strong economy is mutually beneficial. South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia have relatively mixed views. A majority of Indians, however, see a growing Chinese economy as a bad thing for their country – the most among all of the publics surveyed.

A majority of Israelis and pluralities of Lebanese and Tunisians believe they benefit from China’s growing economy.

Throughout Africa and Latin America, most say China’s growing economy is a good thing for their country. This ranges from 83% in Nigeria to 54% in Argentina.

And in nine countries, thinking your own national economy is doing well also relates to more positive views of China’s economic growth. Indonesia and the Philippines have the most dramatic differences; people who think their country’s economy is in good shape are more likely to see China’s economic growth positively by 21 and 19 points, respectively.

In many emerging economies, more people today are saying China’s growing economy is a good thing for their nation compared with five years ago. Double-digit increases have taken place in Mexico, South Africa, the Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria and Argentina.

On the other hand, South Koreans, Kenyans and Indonesians are now less likely to see benefits to China’s growing economy than they were five years ago. Still, sizable portions continue to say China’s economy benefits them in each of these three countries.

Attitudes have remained fairly steady on this question in Lebanon, the U.S., Tunisia, Israel and India.

When asked specifically about whether investment from China is good because it creates jobs in countries or bad because it gives China too much influence, a median of 52% regard Chinese investment as a net positive.

Outside of the Asia-Pacific, investment from China is seen as a good thing in the receiving country. About six-in-ten or more welcome Chinese investment in Nigeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Mexico, Israel, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil. Turkey and Argentina show more ambivalence, with no clear consensus on whether Chinese investment in their country is a good or bad thing.

Among China’s neighbors, most view investments from China with skepticism. Roughly half or more in each Asia-Pacific nation surveyed say Chinese investment is a bad thing because it gives China too much influence. This ranges from 75% of Japanese to 48% of Indonesians.
Few see China’s growing military benefiting their country

While most countries see strong Chinese economic growth benefiting their country, this is not the case when it comes to a growing Chinese military. Across 18 countries, a median of 58% think increased Chinese military strength is bad for them; 24% think this could be a good thing.

China’s Asia-Pacific neighbors are especially doubtful about the effects of a strong Chinese military on their country: Among the six countries surveyed in the region, a median of 79% say China’s growing military might is bad for their country. This is especially true in Japan and South Korea, where nine-in-ten hold this opinion.

This worry extends across the Pacific: Roughly eight-in-ten in the U.S. and Canada see China’s growing military as a bad thing for their country.

Likewise, more in Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa do not see benefits to their own nation when it comes to a growing Chinese military than do. South Africa also follows that trend. However, more than half in Nigeria and Kenya believe their country benefits from increasing Chinese military strength.

The U.S. and Canada have become more negative about China’s growing military since 2007. Previously, about two-thirds said the growing military was bad, but now about eight-in-ten say so. Those in Argentina, Kenya, Turkey and Japan have also become increasingly negative.

On the other hand, those in Lebanon have become less negative about China’s growing military, going from 67% saying it was bad to only 43% saying it is bad. Israelis and Mexicans have similarly become less negative.
Little confidence in President Xi, particularly in neighboring countries

Views of Chinese President Xi Jinping vary greatly across the 34 surveyed countries, but a median of 45% say they lack confidence in the Chinese leader when it comes to world affairs. A median of 29% voice confidence in Xi, while 23% do not offer an opinion.

Six-in-ten Canadians and half of Americans give negative marks to Xi. In Western Europe, a median of 61% say they lack confidence. This includes majorities in France, Sweden, Spain, Germany and the UK. While 38% in the Netherlands give Xi a vote of confidence, more than half (53%) have doubts.

Those in Central and Eastern Europe also tend to lack confidence in Xi, though he is relatively unknown across the region with more than a quarter in each country giving no opinion. Half or more in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia have negative opinions of Xi. Only in Russia does Xi get positive marks, with 59% voicing confidence.

Outside of Europe, Xi’s image is more mixed. In the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, a majority of Filipinos offer a vote of confidence in the Chinese leader. But some of China’s other neighbors are more negative, with most Japanese (81%), South Koreans (74%) and Australians (54%) saying they do not have confidence in him.

Among those who offer an opinion, more in Tunisia and Lebanon have confidence in Xi.

Israel and Turkey show the opposite pattern, with more saying they lack confidence.

About half or more in the three African countries surveyed hold positive views of Xi when it comes to world affairs. This includes 61% in Nigeria, one of China’s largest investment partners on the African continent.

Positive views of Xi have increased across several countries, both in the past year and since 2014. Significant, double-digit increases in confidence toward the Chinese leader since 2018 have occurred in Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Italy. When going back to 2014, Xi fares even better, gaining 15 points or more in the Philippines, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico, Tunisia, Russia and Nigeria.

Confidence in Xi has declined over the past year in Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Tunisia and South Korea. South Korea stands out among other countries as the only place where views of Xi have decreased significantly in both the past year and the past five years, with those saying they are confident in the Chinese leader decreasing by 32 percentage points over that period. While Tunisia shows a one-year dip, confidence in Xi is generally up since 2014.

Japanese confidence in Xi has risen since 2014, but still, only 14% of the public say they trust him to do what’s right in world affairs – the lowest level among the nations surveyed.

When looking at other leaders across Asia, Xi fares relatively less well among the Asia-Pacific publics surveyed. A median of 50% across these six nations have confidence in Japan’s Shinzo Abe when it comes to world affairs, and India’s Narendra Modi is close behind with 48%. Xi trails them with 29% confidence, though he beats out North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who garners a median of 23% confidence. Filipinos stand out for their enthusiasm toward Xi: 58% have confidence in the Chinese leader.

In India and Indonesia, though, Xi’s notoriety remains limited; upwards of a third in each country do not offer a response when asked about him (or, indeed, when asked about any Asian leader with the exception of Prime Minister Modi in India). But, on balance, more in India lack confidence in Xi (36% no confidence vs. 21% confidence, 43% don’t know), and Indonesians are evenly split (32% no confidence, 32% confidence, 35% don’t know).

Fewer Americans voice confidence in Xi than say the same of leaders from other Asian nations, including Abe (61% confidence) and Modi (42% – though a third of Americans offer no opinion). However, many more think Xi will do the right thing regarding world affairs than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in whom a mere 9% of Americans have confidence.

Rubén Weinsteiner

sábado, 14 de diciembre de 2019

Trusting the News Media in the Trump Era

Partisan dynamics overshadow other factors in Americans’ evaluations of the news media

President Trump answers questions from reporters outside the White House in November 2018. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

It is no secret that, in an information environment characterized by deep tensions between President Donald Trump and national news organizations, Americans are divided in their trust of the news media. A new Pew Research Center exploration of more than 50 different surveys conducted by the Center – combined with an analysis of well over 100 questions measuring possible factors that could drive trust in the news media – confirms that in the Trump era nothing comes close to matching the impact of political party identification. On item after item, Republicans consistently express far greater skepticism of the news media and their motives than Democrats, according to this analysis that focuses on trust in the news media during 2018 and 2019.

Even more telling, the analysis reveals that divides emerge within party – particularly the Republican Party – based on how strongly people approve of Trump’s performance as president. Trump has publicly and repeatedly criticized both news organizations and the journalists who work for them, criticisms that, according to this study, resonate with his most fervent supporters.

The link between the public’s approval of Trump and views of the news media is clear in evaluations of journalists’ ethics. About three-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (31%) say journalists have very low ethical standards, roughly six times the 5% of Democrats and Democratic leaners who say this. Trump’s strongest approvers, though, express even greater suspicion: 40% of Republicans who strongly approve of Trump’s job performance say journalists’ ethics are that low. That is true of far fewer Republicans who only somewhat approve of Trump or disapprove of him: 17% and 12%, respectively.1

Overall, this relationship between support for Trump and depressed trust in the news media persists over a range of attitudes. And, taken together, Republicans who are most approving of Trump and Democrats who are least approving of him stand far apart from each other.

The extent to which a person is engaged with national politics and the news surrounding it also plays into their evaluation of the news media. Highly engaged partisans are even more polarized in their views than the two parties overall. For example, there is a 46 percentage point gap between all Democrats and Republicans (including those who lean to each party) in whether they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence that journalists will act in the best interests of the public. This jumps to a 75-point gap between the highly politically aware who associate with the two parties (91% of highly politically aware Democrats vs. 16% of highly aware Republicans).

No other factors in this study come close to these partisan dynamics in their relationship to Americans’ views. There are a few that show some connection, however. One of these factors is trust in others more generally, or interpersonal trust: Americans who express greater trust in others tend to give the news media higher marks than those who are less trusting. Additionally, there are some interesting differences across demographic groups, such as those based on age, race and ethnicity, religion, and education. For example, black Americans often exhibit greater support of news organizations and journalists than Hispanic or white Americans. And older Americans are more loyal to their preferred news sources than younger Americans. Other concepts such as life cycle milestones and life satisfaction measures show limited, inconsistent or no relationship with evaluations of the news media.

The overall goal of this study was to integrate a wide range of concepts to develop a comprehensive understanding of the factors that link to the public’s trust in the news media today. Researchers pulled together years of Pew Research Center surveys conducted on the American Trends Panel and examined responses from the panel members across these surveys. Using advanced statistical weighting and multivariate analyses, attitudes toward the news media – including direct measures of trust as well as closely related measures – were set alongside a wide range of other measures to examine what connects to trust in the news media.

Highly engaged partisans have starkly different views of the news media

The public’s level of engagement – both politically and with the news – adds another dimension to partisans’ evaluations of the news media. Divides within the parties once again emerge, and partisans who are highly engaged are the most polarized in a range of views of the news media.

In general, Republicans and Republican leaners who are highly engaged with politics or with the news tend to be more negative toward the news media than less engaged Republicans, and highly engaged Democrats and Democratic leaners are typically more supportive of the news media than their less engaged counterparts. Taken together, stark divides emerge between the highly engaged Republicans and Democrats – divides that are often more pronounced than among partisans overall.5 (For more information on the two measures of engagement – political awareness and news engagement – see the box below.)

For example, Americans’ level of confidence that journalists will act in the best interests of the public clearly shows how partisan divides are even starker among the highly engaged. In this case, the two parties begin with quite different levels of confidence – 30% of Republicans versus 76% of Democrats overall have a great deal or fair amount of confidence. But then looking within party, highly politically aware Republicans are 30 percentage points less likely than less aware Republicans to say this (16% vs. 46%). And highly aware Democrats are 29 points more likely than their less aware counterparts to express this level of confidence (91% vs. 62%).

Across parties, though, the divide between highly engaged Republicans and Democrats is far larger. The 46 percentage point gap between Republicans and Democrats overall increases to 75 points. A similar pattern emerges when looking at news engagement: There is a 66 percentage point difference between Republicans and Democrats who are highly engaged with news (23% vs. 89%, respectively).

The highly and less engaged in each party are similarly divided in their views of journalists’ ethics. Highly politically aware Republicans are 14 percentage points more likely than those who are less engaged to think that journalists have low or very low ethics (87% vs. 73%) – a gap that is 33 points when considering only those who say very low (49% vs. 16%). And among Democrats, there is a 36-point difference between the highly and less politically aware who say journalists have low or very low ethics (17% vs. 53%).

As with confidence, there is again a substantial divide between highly engaged partisans. The 44-point gap between Republicans and Democrats overall in their view of whether journalists have low or very low ethical standards grows to 70 points between the highly politically aware Republicans and Democrats. And again, a similar pattern emerges among Republicans and Democrats who are highly engaged with news.

On the other measures of trust analyzed in this study, there are also large divides between highly engaged Republicans and Democrats on their trust in the information from national news organizations, views of the media’s watchdog role, and perceived fairness in coverage.6 These stark divides between highly engaged Republicans and Democrats are in line with previous studies that show large divides in political attitudes between the most engaged partisans.

How we measure engagement
Partisans have similar levels of loyalty to their sources of news

While there are profound political divides in Americans’ views of the news media and journalists generally, partisanship is less connected to the public’s sense of loyalty to their own individually preferred sources of information – that is, those sources they tend to rely on most. Instead of stark divides, the most fervent partisans – Trump’s strongest approvers and detractors as well as those who are highly engaged with politics or with the news – are much more on par in their sense of loyalty and tend to be more loyal than their less fervent counterparts.

Republicans and Republican leaners who strongly approve of how Trump is handling his job as president feel more loyal to their news sources than those who somewhat approve or disapprove (41%, vs. 26% and 31% respectively). Likewise, strongly disapproving Democrats and Democratic leaners also feel more loyal than somewhat disapproving Democrats (44% vs. 35%). Taken together, the most approving Republicans and the least approving Democrats are about on par in their loyalty to their own news sources.

The highly engaged in each party – whether with politics or with the news – feel more loyal to their news sources than their less engaged counterparts. For instance, about half of the highly politically aware (49%), say they are loyal to their sources of news, 18 percentage points higher than the less aware (31%) – a pattern that is evident within both parties. Highly politically aware Republicans are 15 points more likely than less aware Republicans to feel loyal to their news sources, and highly aware Democrats are 20 points more likely than less aware Democrats. Again, the same pattern exists with the other measure of engagement – engagement with the news.

Factors beyond party affiliation also connect with trust in the news media

Other factors beyond partisan dynamics are linked with Americans’ assessments of the news media – though perhaps not as dramatically. Two additional areas stand out in this analysis: trust of others overall and demographic characteristics.
Americans who are more trusting of others overall extend that trust to the news media

High trusters – those with high levels of trust in others overall – are more likely than low trusters – those with lower levels of trust in others – to trust the information they get from national news organizations, think that journalists are ethical, have confidence in journalists to serve the public good, and feel loyal to their own sources of news. (For more information on the measures of personal trust, see the box below.)

For example, high trusters are 16 percentage points more likely to have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in journalists to act in the best interests of the public (63% vs. 47%, respectively). Similarly, high trusters are 14 points more likely than low trusters to say that journalists have very high or high ethical standards (51% vs. 37%). These findings are in line with previous Pew Research Center studies showing that high trusting individuals tend to be more supportive and confident in a range of institutions.

How we measure personal trust

Americans’ level of personal trust has less connection with their view of the news media’s watchdog role or their likelihood to say news organizations are fair in their coverage of political and social issues, however.
Demographics and trust in the news media

The survey data used in this analysis highlights several interesting differences by race and ethnicity, age, educational attainment, urban-rural residency and religion. Below is a summary of some of the demographic findings. For more details, see the Appendix.
Black Americans generally have higher support for and trust in the news media than Hispanic Americans and especially white Americans. For example, 57% of blacks say journalists have high or very high ethical standards compared with 49% of Hispanics and 41% of whites. Also, 41% of black adults say news organizations are fair to all sides when covering political and social issues, 10 points higher than Hispanics (31%) and 19 points higher than whites (22%).
Older Americans tend to feel more connected to their preferred news sources than younger Americans. About half of those ages 65 and older (49%) feel loyal to their news sources, compared with about a quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds (27%), a difference of 22 percentage points. Those ages 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 fall somewhere in between (36% and 44%, respectively).
U.S. adults with higher levels of education express greater trust in information from national news organizations than those with less education. For instance, those with a college degree or higher are somewhat more likely than those with a high school degree or less and those with some college to say they have a lot or some trust in the information they get from national news organizations. And they are about twice as likely to say they have a lot of trust (33% of those with at least a college degree, vs. 17% of those with some college and 15% of those with a high school degree or less).
Rural residents tend to be more skeptical of news organizations and journalists than urban residents, with suburban residents typically falling somewhere in between. For example, about half of those who live in rural areas (48%) have a great deal or fair amount of confidence that journalists will act in the best interests of the public, 15 percentage points lower than those who live in urban areas (63%). Those in suburban areas are in the middle (55%).
White evangelical Protestants tend to be less supportive of the news media than Protestants overall, Catholics and religiously unaffiliated Americans. For example, about a quarter of white evangelicals (26%) say journalists have high or very high ethical standards, between 13 and 26 percentage points lower than Protestants overall, Catholics and the unaffiliated.
Factors with limited association with trust in the news media

The overall goal of this study was to integrate a wide range of concepts to develop a comprehensive understanding of what factors connect to the public’s trust in the news media today. The analysis shows how partisanship – including party identification, approval of Trump and engagement with politics and the news – are strongly linked with Americans’ evaluations of the news media. Other factors such as trust in others and demographic characteristics are also connected, but not as dramatically.

Additional measures analyzed, however, had a more limited, inconsistent or no connection to the public’s trust in the news media. These include:
Life cycle milestones, such as having children, owning a house and moving away from the community where you grew up.
Life satisfaction, such as being happy with how things are going, having enough income to live comfortably now and having enough income to live the life you want in the future.
Preferred pathways to get news, that is, whether they prefer the TV, radio, print newspapers, social media, or websites and apps for news.
Some additional demographic variables such as sex.