Fact check: Do Americans like the British royals more than our own politicians?

William JordanUS Elections Editor
March 20, 2015, 2:19 PM GMT+0

YouGov’s data shows Barack Obama’s claim to be at least partly untrue

President Obama joked during a sit down with Prince Charles at the White House yesterday that Americans like the Royal family more than US politicians. “I think it’s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family,” the president told the heir to the British throne. He added: “They like them much more than they like their own politicians.”

Is this true? Well, it depends on the politician – and the royal.

YouGov most recently asked Americans whether they liked members of the British royal family in April 2011, ahead of the royal wedding. Then, 24% of Americans had a positive opinion of Charles, while 37% had a negative opinion of him, for a net rating of -13* (40% were either undecided, or didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion). Camilla, who also attended the Oval Office meeting, received a net rating of -28.

YouGov tracks the personal ratings of US politicians weekly, and in the latest poll on President Obama finds that 49% view him in a favorable light and 48% in an unfavourable light, meaning he is better liked than Charles in overall numbers and in net terms, where he gets a +1 rating. So, present company included, Obama’s claim about US public opinion is untrue.

However, as can be seen in the table below, Barack Obama is exceptionally popular among US politicians. And Prince Charles is exceptionally unpopular among British royals.

  Royals / US politicians Favorable Unfavorable Net favorability
  Prince William 52 8 +44
  Kate Middleton 46 8 +38
  Prince Harry 47 10 +37
  Queen Elizabeth 48 13 +35
  Barack Obama 49 48 +1
  Hillary Clinton 47 48 -1
  Prince Charles 24 37 -13
  Jeb Bush 33 49 -16
  Nancy Pelosi 32 49 -17
  Harry Reid 24 44 -20
  Mitch McConnell 22 43 -21
  Camilla 11 39 -28
  John Boehner 23 53 -30

In America, only Hillary Clinton, with a net rating of -1, comes close to Obama. The congressional leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties (Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid in the Senate; John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives) and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush do worse than nearly every British royal – including Prince Charles, but with the exception of Camilla.

* It’s possible US opinions about Prince Charles have improved since 2011, as they have in Britain, but he and his wife would have to revive their images quite a bit to be above water.

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