Pope Francis liked even more after U.S. visit

October 02, 2015, 1:19 PM GMT+0

After his tour of the Northeast Pope Francis I is even more popular among the American public

Pope Francis began his U.S. trip as a very popular Pontiff. He left the country more of a Papal rock star. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, positive American opinion of the Pope jumped 11 points – although nearly one in five remain unfavorable towards him. Not only did the proportion of the public liking the Pope rise, but Americans are more likely now than before to desire his involvement in world affairs – and many even support his becoming involved in U.S. domestic affairs.

As before, more Republicans (27%) than Democrats (10%), and more conservatives (30%) than liberals (9%) think unfavorably of Francis, but majorities of both Republicans and conservatives now are favorable. Two weeks ago, before the Pope’s visit, less than half in both groups expressed favorable opinions towards the Pope.

By more than two to one, Americans now find a papal role in world affairs appropriate. Two weeks ago, the margin of support for this was much smaller.

This week, majorities of Republicans and conservatives also agree. Before the Pope’s visit, those two groups were divided on the appropriateness of the Pope attempting to influence world affairs.

There is even support now for the Pope’s involvement in U.S. domestic affairs, though the margin of support is much smaller than it is for his involvement in global matters. 49% overall, and 63% of Catholics, think it is appropriate for the Pope to try and influence U.S. domestic affairs. On this matter, Republicans and conservatives are nearly evenly divided.

The Pope’s travels to the U.S. – and the accompanying wall-to-wall media coverage – wasn’t missed by the public. Just 5% claimed not to have heard anything about the Pope’s visit; only 24% claimed to have heard nothing about his speech to a joint session of Congress. Those who had heard about or seen the speech were suitably impressed: by better than three to one, they approved of the speech. While one GOP lawmaker boycotted the speech in opposition to the Pope’s stand on climate change, a majority of Republicans approved of it, and by a two to one margin. Democrats were even more positive.

Most Americans also think the Pope has at least some influence on U.S. domestic affairs – although just 13% say he has a great deal of influence.

Francis was the first Pope ever to address Congress. Although before the speech, less than half the public felt it was appropriate for the Congressional leadership to extend him an invitation, afterwards the percentage expressing that opinion jumped by 15 points.

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.