What Americans think about world leaders ahead of the 2021 NATO summit

June 14, 2021, 12:30 PM UTC

President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend the 2021 NATO summit on Monday. Data from the latest Economist/YouGov poll shows that Americans support the ideals of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but that doesn’t mean the public likes all the leaders of NATO countries.

Opinion of both the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron is decidedly mixed, with Johnson more popular with Republicans and Macron more popular among Democrats.

German leader Angela Merkel, who will leave office later this year, is the rare European politician with positive ratings from Americans. However, more Republicans now are negative than positive about the German Chancellor. In April 2018, Republicans were more positive: 38% had a favorable opinion of her, while 33% were unfavorable. Today, 28% of Republicans are positive, and 37% are negative. 

Then, as now, Democrats were overwhelmingly positive about Merkel. 

There is one other European leader President Biden met on Sunday, though most Americans are not aware there will be a meeting, one who receives very positive assessments from Americans. That is Queen Elizabeth II. Two-thirds (65%) have a favorable opinion of Her Majesty, and 20% are unfavorable. The Queen’s support crosses party lines in the U.S.

Americans are split on Biden’s foreign policy abilities 

Another goal for the President is to shore up his own foreign policy credentials. The public is divided on whether they are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis: in this poll 41% are, but 42% are not. That same divide comes when the public is asked about the President’s overall handling of foreign policy. In an Economist/YouGov poll conducted two weeks ago, the country divided 42% to 42% between approval and disapproval.  

That test will come in Biden’s meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan (to be held at the same time as the NATO summit) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both men are seen negatively by Americans (though 56% say they don’t know enough about Erdogan to have an opinion).  Two-thirds are unfavorable toward Putin (68%), and in previous polls, most Americans view Russia as unfriendly or even an enemy. Putin himself is seen as a threat to the U.S. by 62% to 12%.  

Putin holds one advantage over President Biden, the perception of his leadership skills. Though 51% say President Biden is a strong leader, 74% describe Putin that way. 

Foreign Policy
 

Related: Americans believe the economic impact of the pandemic will last at least a few years 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 6 - 8, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample.   

Image: Getty