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Poll: U.S. image improves but still negative overall

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Barack Obama is candidate of choice in 22 of the 24 countries surveyed
  • President Bush continues to get negative reviews internationally
  • Americans are much less optimistic on success in Iraq than two years ago
  • More Japanese -- 83 percent -- than Amercans -- 80 percent -- following U.S. election
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From Jill Dougherty
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- America's image is improving around the world but is still more negative than positive, according to a survey of two dozen nations.

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More people abroad expressed confidence in Sen. Barack Obama than in Sen. John McCain, the survey shows.

Many people abroad believe the next president is likely to change U.S. foreign policy for the better, the survey shows, especially if that president were to be Sen. Barack Obama.

"The poll found many people in the survey -- majorities in some countries -- saying that they've been paying close attention to the American election," said Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center.

That keen interest in the U.S. race is one of the conclusions of this year's Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, which questioned more than 24,000 people in 24 countries, including Americans.

"In fact, in Japan, we had 83 percent of the people we polled saying that they were following the election news very or fairly closely, which compares to 80 percent in the United States.

"It's just unbelievable," Kohut said.

In half the countries surveyed, at least 40 percent of the people said they were following the U.S. election.

In nine of the countries, more than half the people felt the next U.S. president will bring about a positive change in America's foreign policy.

Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was the candidate of choice in all but two of the 24 countries surveyed. More people expressed confidence in him than in the presumptive Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain.

The exceptions were the United States and Jordan -- a slim majority in both countries favored McCain.

The 2008 Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that favorable views of the United States are up significantly from a year ago in 10 countries. Video Watch how the study offers some encouraging news for the U.S. »

Citizens in most of the Muslim world remain overwhelmingly negative in their opinion of Washington, although many predominantly Muslim nations showed small increases in their positive view of the United States.

Among the additional findings:

  • As he nears the end of his second term, President Bush continues to receive negative reviews internationally. In 14 countries, at least two-thirds of respondents expressed little or no confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs. In the United States, 37 percent voice confidence in Bush, compared with 78 percent in May 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq war.
  • The survey finds little optimism about the likelihood of success in Iraq. Americans are much less optimistic than they were two years ago. Forty percent say efforts to establish a stable democratic Iraqi government will succeed, down from 54 percent in 2006.
  • Support for international trade continues to decline in the United States. Fifty-three percent of Americans say trade is good for their country, down from 59 percent last year and 78 percent in 2002.
  • The United States is blamed more often than any other country for hurting the world's environment, although concerns about China's environmental record are on the rise as well.
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    The survey has one warning sign for the United States: In 18 of the 24 countries, people said their own country's economy is bad and they blame the U.S. for its strong but negative influence.

    The survey was conducted March 17 to April 21.

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