In 20 of the 29 countries and areas that Gallup has results for so far in 2020, approval ratings of U.S. leadership are at new lows or they tie the previous lows.
Median approval across the 29 countries and areas stood at 18% in 2020, down from 22% for this same group in 2017. On its face, this decline is not good news for the next U.S. administration, but even worse news is the number of allies on the list of countries where approval dropped to historic lows: Ireland (20%), the United Kingdom (15%), Denmark (14%), Switzerland (10%), Germany (6%) and Iceland (5%).
NATO ally Albania stands out as the only country of the 29 where the U.S. earns majority approval -- and it typically gives the U.S. some of its highest marks -- but the 56% of Albanians who approve of U.S. leadership is also a new low.
It's too early to say that the U.S. is on tap to see its worst rankings ever for any year and what effect the U.S. election could have on the image of U.S. leadership. The global picture should be clearer by Inauguration Day in 2021 when most of Gallup's 2020 fieldwork in nearly 100 more countries should be complete.
However, as it stands today, President-elect Joe Biden will have a lot of repair work to do when he takes office in late January -- perhaps even more work than awaited President Barack Obama when he took over from a highly unpopular President George Bush.
Since Biden left office as vice president, approval ratings of U.S. leadership have dropped 51 percentage points among long-time ally Portugal, 44 points in the United Kingdom and 37 points in Germany. But Obama overcame similar deficits when he took office, which shows that it can be done.