Despite Obama’s speech, awareness of Egypt high, Tunisia and Bahrain low

May 19, 2011, 9:11 PM GMT+0

President Obama endorsed on Thursday the efforts of Arab protestors to bring democracy to their countries. Our polls show, however, that awareness by Americans of the situation in these countries remains varied. While appreciation of Egypt is high, Americans know less about Tunisia—the starting point of the current revolts—and Bahrain—the location of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

With 45% believing that Egypt will become a stable democracy eventually, Americans have the most faith for democracy in Egypt out of countries in which protests or uprisings have taken place. At the same time, Americans are least likely to say that democracy will never come to Egypt (25%). In addition, the highest number of people evaluate Egypt as important to US interests (59%), while the lowest number see it as unimportant (15%).

Despite President Obama’s comparison of the Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi—who helped spark the uprising —to Rosa Parks in his speech, Americans have less faith for democracy in Tunisia. Only 25% say it will take hold in the country, while 31% say that democracy will never be established—a larger number than in Egypt. Concern with Tunisia is also low, however, with 39% rating the country as important to US interests (the second least) and 31% evaluating it as not important to US interests (the most).

Like Tunisia, Americans appear not to be very aware of Bahrain, with figures indicating a lack of knowledge of the relationship between it and the US. While President Obama deemed Bahrain in his speech a “long-standing partner,” only 18% of Americans thought that Bahrainis held a favorable view of the United States. Furthermore, only 38% believed Bahrain important to US interests, third least behind Tunisia and Yemen. As in Tunisia, the prospect of democracy received low marks in both directions, with 21% of Americans believing that Bahrain would become a stable democracy and 34% believing it never would.

Full datasets for Economist/YouGov polls can be found here.

Photo source: Press Association