Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


U.S.’ favorability among Mexicans plummets

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Given the various insulting things candidate Donald Trump said about Mexico and Mexicans during 2016, the drop isn’t exactly inexplicable.

The Pew Research Center conducts a not-quite-annual “Global Attitudes Study,” which, among other things, measures attitudes toward the United States in many countries around the world. Maybe you know where this is going.

For the first time since they started the project in 2002, the image of the United States among Mexicans is negative — in fact, overwhelmingly negative. The most recent Pew survey of Mexicans finds that 65 percent describe their view of the United States as negative. The previous record high was 44 percent negative in 2008, but even then, 47 percent of Mexicans described their attitude as positive. As recently as 2015, the view was almost the opposite with 66 percent positive compared to 29 percent negative. (Here’s the link to that Mexico poll data.)

Given the various insulting things candidate Donald Trump said about Mexico and Mexicans during 2016, the drop isn’t exactly inexplicable. In fact, if you have any doubt, Pew also asked Mexicans whether they had confidence (or no confidence) in the U.S. president to do the right thing in international affairs. In 2015, by a bare 49-45 percent, Mexicans expressed such confidence in then-President Barack Obama. The most recent survey, taken during the first year of the Trump presidency, that shifted to a pretty staggering 5 percent confidence, 93 percent no confidence.

Here’s a taste of the Pew write-up of the Mexican attitudes report:

The 36-percentage-point drop in favorability is the largest across 37 countries surveyed by the Center. And the intensity of Mexicans’ distaste for America has grown: The share that holds a very unfavorable opinion of the U.S. has increased since 2015, from 6% to 42%.

Ouch. Or maybe not ouch.

If you are sufficiently in sync with the views and policies of the current incumbent, especially regarding views toward Mexicans (including those who reside illegally in the United States) you may not find those numbers shocking nor even concerning. Personally, I think having a good relationship with one of our two nearest neighbors is better than a bad relationship, but not at any price.

On a related note, Time magazine’s recent feature on “Five Elections to Keep an Eye On in 2018” led off with the presidential election in Mexico, where hostility toward President Trump has (perhaps) contributed to the surge of a “leftist firebrand” named Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the top of current polls ahead of the upcoming Mexican presidential election. Lopez Obrador, Time says, “has solidified his place as front-runner by matching Trump’s bluster with a defiance that resonates with Mexican voters.”

But decline in attitudes toward the United States is not limited to Mexico. Not even slightly. I wrote the other day about the overall Pew global attitudes survey, in which confidence in the American president had shifted in the negative direction in 35 out of 37 countries surveyed.

But, just to complete the review of nations on our borders: In the only other nation with which we share a border (that would be Canada, and Trump did not insult Canadians directly, as he did Mexicans) views of the U.S. president fell from 84 percent of Canadians, who had confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs the last time they were surveyed before Barack Obama left office, to 22 percent who said that about the current incumbent the first time Pew asked the question after the change of administrations.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/19/2017 - 10:30 am.

    At least there is consistency…”disparage your neighbor” plus “beggar your neighbor”.

    Let’s forget the era of increasing prosperity and power of the late 20th century and return to the 19th.

    Lurid fear of the dusky peoples and tariffs for everyone else.

  2. Submitted by cory johnson on 12/19/2017 - 10:32 am.

    Why do we care?

    So we won’t let our neighbors take advantage of us anymore and they resent us? What a shocker. Mexico was happy to let people from their country (and other countries) cross into the US illegally and game our system. Granted it was mutually advantageous for Dems to allow it because it brought the possibility of more votes. But the party is over. What a no story.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/19/2017 - 11:00 am.


      The US is unpopular all over the world now because the president is a belligerent, incompetent clown. If we were actually stopping countries from taking advantage of us it might be a good thing to be disliked, but that isn’t the case. Pulling out of international agreements has mostly hurt the US, and won’t improve because, contrary to his claims, Trump is a terrible negotiator.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/19/2017 - 12:41 pm.

      Not So SImple

      Transnational corporations pushed three governments to sign NAFTA, which we were told would lift the standard of living in Mexico. Why, the rising middle class in Mexico would buy tons of US goods!

      Instead, US agri-business flooded the Mexican market with cheaply produced corn, traditional rural Mexican farmers were undercut, and out of business. Given that NAFTA proved to be a paper tiger with regard to labor rights, Mexican wages did not rise. Why work for a buck an hour when you can walk across the street and make $10 an hour? That’s classic conservative economics, right there.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/19/2017 - 02:04 pm.

    What I find ridiculous is the lack of understanding that an “us vs them” economic policy leads exactly to consequences like economic migration of a kind that has happened with Mexico. If your goal is to best your trading partner, you should expect people leaving the weak economy and moving to the strong economy.

    It’s about the money ! It’s not because the immigrants want to live in a foreign place !

    Our best strategy to live in peace is do as much as possible for other countries to have viable economies..

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/19/2017 - 02:04 pm.

    I really think

    …Neal Rovick has nailed this one, along with Pat Terry.

    Honorable mention goes to Frank Phelan for “…Why work for a buck an hour when you can walk across the street and make $10 an hour? That’s classic conservative economics, right there.”

    Indeed, it is. Especially when you consider how many of those $10 an hour jobs used to be held by Americans making considerably more than $10 an hour – until CEOs decided that shareholders come first, and profits could be substantially increased by exporting those jobs, regardless of the effect on Main Street. That, too, is classic conservative economics.

  5. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 12/19/2017 - 04:08 pm.

    Time heals all ???

    With such temporal swings in data, one must be assured that the results are only temporary, thus the poll does not reflect held-fast beliefs.

    The results will change in four (or eight) years.

  6. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/19/2017 - 10:11 pm.

    So what don’t they like about Trump and America lately? A reduction in illegal immigration? Then these numbers are good. And they don’t trust Trump to make a right decision? Right for Mexico? On the other hand, with these numbers, why do we have an increase in southern border crossing lately?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/20/2017 - 09:30 am.

      Not Mexicans

      Mostly Guatemalans and Nicaraguans fleeing terrorist regimes.
      To get here they must go through Mexico.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/20/2017 - 09:50 am.

    Have you seen the latest…

    NOW Trump is “demanding” a roll call in the UN when the vote to condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as Isreal’s Capital. What an idiot.

    For decades the UN has been voting to sanction or condemn Israel in most cases with Israel and the US being the ONLY “no” votes. One of the problems with putting a Republican governor with zero international experience or interest in the UN is the complete lack of historical awareness. Trump and Haley will only humiliate themselves when 300+ nations vote the resolution despite Trump infantile effort to intimidate them. They’ll be even more isolated than they were before. Just another day of making America “great” again eh?

Leave a Reply