Polling Results From German Marshall Fund and Chicago Council on Global Affairs (9/12)     Print

By Michael D. Mosettig

It's polling season again and not just in the last two months of the  U.S. Presidential elections. Two think tanks known for their comprehensive  surveys published  new studies of public opinion  this week, one barely  mentioning Europe and the other showing more parallel trans-Atlantic  attitudes than the daily headlines might suggest.

A common starting point for both the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. was recognition of a dreadful  decade, for Americans since the 9/11 attacks and for Europeans in economic  turmoil plus for both the Iraq and Afghan wars that split public opinion across the  Atlantic.

For European officials and corporate executives, the Chicago Council's poll, based on a  large sample of nearly 1,800 U.S. adults, there might be pause in the  increased desire for "selective engagement" overseas. That feeling is most  pronounced in two growing demographic groups --the so-called Millenials  between 18 and 29 and political independents.

Certainly likely  to catch the eye of European policy wonks in the Chicago poll  is a  first-time reversal in one key indicator --a small majority of Americans

52-47 percent) now regard Asia as more important than Europe. Those changing  lines reflect a huge increase in the share of people regarding Asia as more  important and a lesser drop in the Europe number. But ten years ago, the  numbers were Europe at 58 percent to 27 percent for Asia.

The German Marshall Fund's annual Transatlantic Trends survey covers both American and European (for the first time including Russian) opinion Its sample was 1,000 adults each in the U.S, 12 EU nations plus Turkey and Russia.

Interestingly, the Marshall Fund survey found that U.S. residents feel the EU is more important than Asia by margin of 55 percent for Europe versus 34 percent for Asia.  This finding reverses the findings from the 2011 poll which for the first time found U.S. residents thought Asia was more important than Europe.  Europeans in the Marshall Fund survey also reversed and this year find the U.S. more important than Asia by a margin of 61 percent to 30 percent.

Other findings described by the Marshall Fund survey as "remarkable:"

#That EU respondents still support the Union, if less so the euro  currency;

#but broad disenchantment with their domestic institutions;

#and that Russians have views that track differently from other Europeans or Americans (one example vis-a-vis the  Europeans, strong Russian support for Israel).

And despite the classic or growing divergences, such as over the use of  force or on Israel, two-thirds on both sides of the Atlantic think they  share enough values and interests to exercise leadership in the world.

Views on China and Iran were equally negative on both sides.

President Obama remains remarkably popular in Europe with an 82 percent overall favorable rating and 71 percent approving his international  policies. Only 23 percent had a favorable view of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In a hypothetical question for Europeans on whom they would vote for in the upcoming U.S. election, 75 percent said they would vote for Obama versus only 8 percent for Romney.  Within the EU Romney got the most votes in Poland (16%) and the fewest in France (2%).

And the figure that might most surprise many Americans and their members of Congress, 81 percent of French respondents voiced a favorable view of the  United States, some seven points above the overall European number.

Michael D. Mosettig is Former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour and member of European Affairs Advisory Board