The latest polling conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies indicates that Europeans are strongly divided on their opinions about the future relationship between their country and the USA. In Italy, a plurality (36%) are in favour of the country maintaining their current level of relations with the USA, and just a fifth (20%) would favour the Government seeking more distant relations. The Spanish public are most supportive of their country forming closer relations with the USA: 38% of Spaniards hold this view, while just 21% think the country should seek more distant relations.
A slight plurality (31%) of the French public would like their Government to seek more distant relations with the USA, while just a quarter (25%) would prefer the country to seek closer relations. Moreover, although a slight plurality (34%) of Germans would prefer the Government maintaining the current level of relations, a strong minority (32%) would favour the pursuit of more distant relations. Only one-in-five Germans support the Government seeking closer relations with the USA.
Despite a significant portion of French and German respondents preferring a more distant relationship between their country and the US in the future, polling conducted in the US indicates that Americans have a more favourable view of both France and Germany. A majority (54%) of the US public believe France is primarily an ally to the United States and its interests, while a clear plurality (46%) hold the same view about Germany. Only small minorities of US respondents consider France (10%) or Germany (14%) a threat to the US and its interests.
Limited support amongst the European public for their government building closer relations with the US may be linked to their views about the current US President, Donald Trump. Across all four countries surveyed, a clear majority of the public holds a negative opinion of President Donald Trump. 62% of French, 57% of Italians, 73% of Germans and 65% of Spaniards have a negative opinion. Notably, almost half (48%) of Germans and French respondents view Trump ‘very negatively.’
Across Europe, only a small minority of the public think that Donald Trump is more likely to win the election than Biden in November. In Spain, 20% of the public believe that Trump is more likely to win, while just 11% of respondents in France and Italy hold this view. A clear plurality of Spaniards (45%) and French (44%) believe Trump is more likely to lose. Despite polling indicating a strong lead for Biden in the race for the Presidency, a significant minority of respondents in all four countries consider that Trump is equally likely to win as to lose (France: 28%, Italy: 26%, Spain: 45%), which may indicate that some members of the European public remain sceptical of calling the race too far in advance given Trump’s shock victory in 2016. It may also be the case that a proportion of the European public have had a limited level of engagement with the progress of the US election campaign so far, and are unaware of current polling.
A far greater number of respondents think that Joe Biden would be a better candidate for the interests of their country than Donald Trump. In Germany, 62% of all respondents believe that a Biden victory would be better for Germany and its interests, in contrast to just 13% of the public who consider that a Trump victory would be better for Germany. Around half (49%) of Spaniards think Biden would be better for the interests of Spain, while just 18% state they view Trump as a more desirable candidate from the Spanish pespective. In France, 44% of those polled would prefer Biden and only 12% think Trump would best serve France’s interests. 40% of Italians think Biden would be better for the interests of Italy, with 13% believing that Trump would be. Significantly, a large proportion of Italians (47%), French (44%) and Spaniards (33%) ‘don’t know’ which candidate would be better for their country’s interests, which may highlight that Europeans remain relatively unaware of Biden’s policies in relation to Europe.
Although Europeans hold broadly negative views of the current US President, a majority in three of the four European countries polled continue to see the US as a global leader. Over two-thirds (67%) of Spaniards consider the US a global leader, while 51% of French and Italian respondents also hold this view.
Interestingly, less than a third (32%) of Germans see the US as a global leader at this point. 55% of the German public don’t consider the US as a global leader, which is a notable difference from the other countries surveyed. The popular administration of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has increasingly sought to distance itself from Trump’s Presidency, which may be a factor in the way the German public view the US. In late May, Merkel refused Trump’s invitation to attend a G7 summit. Likewise, Trump and Merkel have repeatedly clashed over defence spending and NATO commitments, and Merkel has publicly taken issue with the Trump administration’s unilateral approach to issues such as foreign policy and the Iran nuclear deal.
Overall, polling underlines that respondents in major European countries are strongly divided about whether their government should pursue closer or more distant relations with the US. The public in France, Spain, Germany and Italy broadly favour a Biden victory in November’s election, which they believe would be more beneficial to their nation’s interests.