Ahead of his Presidential visit to the United Kingdom, Donald Trump said that:
I think they like me a lot in the UK.
The available polling evidence does not concur with this perception.
- Donald Trump is unpopular: Recent YouGov polls estimate over 70% of the British public have an unfavourable opinion of the US President;
- Support for the “working visit”: A plurality believe the President’s visit should go ahead, but do not back Trump seeing the Queen.
Data trumps opinion
Whilst the US President believes he is popular in the UK, a study of public opinion polling shows this is not the case.
Between 9th and 10th July, YouGov asked 1,648 GB adults in its internet panel about their favourability towards various national leaders. Sponsored by ITV Tonight, the poll found only 4% have a ‘very favourable’ view of Donald Trump. In contrast, 61% had a ‘very unfavourable’ opinion.
In this sample of British public opinion, the US President’s net favourability score was -60:
Whilst polling companies in Britain only sporadically ask about Donald Trump, other polls with different questions have found similar results.
Back in March 2017, GfK asked people in its internet panel a question about job approval of Donald Trump:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President of the United States?
In the sample of 1,938 GB adults, 60% said they disapproved of the President’s handling of his job.
Gallup — in a multi-country study in March to November 2017 — found that only a third of British respondents approved of “the job performance of the leadership of the United States”. Conducted with face-to-face and telephone interviews, 63% disapproved the US leadership’s job performance.
This share represents a fall of 26 percentage points from the same question conducted in 2016.
In January 2018, Opinium asked its internet panel about perceptions of Donald Trump.
The poll suggested these perceptions were negative: 72% agreed that the US President was “a risk to international stability”, and 71% suggested he was untrustworthy. Most respondents did not believe Donald Trump represented what most Americans think, and did not regard him as a strong leader.
A Working Visit
Returning to the recent YouGov poll, the research company asked in the same poll about Donald Trump’s job performance, and questions about his “working visit” to the UK.
The question wording had been recently changed, and now reads:
Donald Trump has been invited to make a “working visit” to Britain in July, do you think this should go ahead or should it be cancelled?
In the July poll, 50% answered it should go ahead. This is a reduction of five points from when this question was asked at the start of May. The response to cancel the visit rose by seven points, to 37%.
Just under half the YouGov sample (49%) said Donald Trump should not meet the Queen as part of this visit, with 35% believing he should.
This question was asked prior to the visit, where Donald Trump did meet the Queen.
Furthermore, 64% of respondents believe Donald Trump is a poor or terrible US President.
Despite these perceptions of poor performance and unfavourable opinions of Donald Trump, a plurality support the US President coming to our shores and our government trying to work with him.