A recent report by Pew Research Centre found Americans showing a partisan divide on their “feelings” towards many countries. For example, as reported by PTI (and published in The Indian Express, September 11), Republicans are more negatively disposed towards India than Democrats. How was this survey of “feelings” carried out, and what did it indicate about the American public’s view of various countries, including India?
Conducted between July 30 and August 12, the survey asked 4,581 American adults for their feelings towards 10 other countries on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100. A rating of 51 or higher is “warm”; a rating below 50 is “cold”; a rating of 50 is neutral.
Among the public overall, India figured on the middle of the “feeling thermometer”, alongside Mexico, with both countries getting an average rating of 51, or an indication of mixed feelings. The average thermometer rating (all respondents considered) was highest for Canada (71), followed by Britain (66), Japan (61) and Germany (59). Ratings were negative for China (42), Russia, Iran (both 28) and North Korea (21).
While comparable shares in both political parties had neutral feelings about India (42% of Democrats, 41% of Republicans), more Republicans (31%) than Democrats (21%) felt coldly towards India. And more Democrats (35%) than Republicans (26%) felt warmly towards India.
The survey found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to express cold feelings towards China, too. Far more Republicans gave cold (57%) ratings than neutral (24%) or warm ratings (16%), while Democrats’ views of China were more divided — 38% felt coldly, 35% had neutral feelings and 25% expressed warm feelings.
India was among six countries that got average ratings of 51 or higher from Democrats. On the other hand, Republicans gave four countries average ratings of 51 or higher: Canada (65), Britain (64), Japan (59) and Germany (54). These four were also among the six countries that got positive average ratings from Democrats; the other two were India and Mexico.
The widest differences were in opinions about Mexico, with an average thermometer of 61 among Democrats and just 38 among Republicans. On the other hand, there was general agreement over North Korea (both sides were cold) and Britain (both sides warm).