Mexico’s View of U.S. Worsens After Passage of Arizona Immigration Law, Says Global Attitudes Survey

June 18, 2010 - 7:26 AM
While other nations' opinions of the U.S. 'improved markedly' in 2009 in response to Barack Obama's presidency, America's favorability rating has tumbled in Mexico, apparently because of Arizona's new immigration law, a new survey concludes.
Andrew Kohut

Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center and director of the organization's annual Global Attitudes Project, unveiled the 2010 survey on Thursday, June 17, 2010 in Washington. This year’s survey includes a follow-up poll of Mexicans after the passage of state legislation in Arizona to enforce federal immigration law. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) While other nations’ opinions of the U.S. “improved markedly” in 2009 in response to Barack Obama’s presidency, America’s favorability rating has tumbled in Mexico, apparently because of Arizona’s new immigration law, a new survey concludes.
 
The Pew Research Center’s annual Global Attitudes Project gauges how the United States and President Obama are perceived both at home and abroad. The 172-page report was unveiled at the National Press Club on Thursday.
 
This year’s report includes a follow-up survey of Mexicans, conducted after Arizona passed a law allowing police to check a person’s immigration status if that person is stopped for some other valid reason. The Arizona law mirrors federal law, but nevertheless it has drawn sharp criticism from illegal immigrants and those who support amnesty or a “pathway to citizenship.”

Pew’s follow-up survey -- 800 Mexicans were questioned before the Arizona law was passed and 500 after it passed -- found that “only 44% of Mexicans gave the U.S. a favorable rating after the signing of the [Arizona] bill, compared with 62% who did so before the bill passed.”
 
The survey concludes that Mexican “resentment” of Arizona’s new immigration law “is fueling a backlash against the U.S., the American people, and even against President Obama, who has publicly criticized the measure.”
 
However, when CNSNews.com asked for more details on the May follow-up survey in Mexico, Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center and director of the Global Attitudes Project, responded that Pew had once again asked a generic question about how Mexicans rate the United States – “the same questions that we asked” in April, he said.
 
“There were some follow-up questions about (the Arizona) law, Kohut added, “but they are not considered” in the global attitudes report.
 
As noted above, 62 percent of the Mexicans interviewed from April 14-20 had a positive view of the U.S., compared with just 44 percent of those interviewed between May 1-6, after the Arizona law was passed.
 
“The inference that we can draw from that is, there’s a backlash in the United States as a consequence of this (Arizona) law,” Kohut told CNSNews.com.
 
Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitude Project, said the follow-up survey in Mexico did include some questions about the Arizona law: “We asked some questions about how people heard about the law and asked people to rate certain leaders on how they’re dealing with the law. Some of that, you can see in this report … there’s a little bit of that in this report,” Wike said.
 
For example, the global attitudes report notes that nearly two-thirds (65%) of Mexicans surveyed after the Arizona law’s enactment had heard of the new law; 23% had heard a lot about it; and around  25% had not heard of it.
 
“When asked how leaders on both sides of the border are handling the controversial new measure, Mexicans generally offer negative assessments,” the report says. “In particular, (Arizona) Gov. (Jan) Brewer gets poor marks – 75% disapprove of the way she has dealt with the law. And even though U.S. President Barack Obama has criticized the new law, a majority of Mexicans (54%) disapprove of the way he has handled the crisis,” the report says.
 
Pew says its follow-up survey asked Mexicans about the Arizona law after asking them once again for their overall favorability rating of the United States.
 
Although Mexico’s view of the U.S. has turned negative, that is not the case in Western Europe, where the United States is looked on favorably because of Obama’s leadership, the Pew survey said.
 
“Driven by President Obama’s popularity in the region, favorable ratings for the U.S. in Western Europe soared between 2008 and 2009, and in this year’s poll attitudes remain overwhelmingly positive in Britain, France, Germany and Spain,” the report says.
 
The Pew Research Center, which calls itself a non-partisan “fact tank,” has conducted the Global Attitudes Project since 2001.
 
 
Following is the transcript of CNSNews.com’s questions to Kohut and his response, as well as the response from Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitude Project.
 
CNSNews.com: Can you give us more details on the special follow up poll when you asked about the Arizona law, as far as polling in Mexico? I was curious about how you posed that question and the methodology of getting that polling on the Arizona law.
 
Kohut: Sure, what we did was a follow up interview; a small national sample. The questions posed were the same questions that we asked prior to the interview. There were some follow-up questions about this law, but they are not considered in this report. What we were looking at (was) the pre-, post-reaction to the United States…
 
CNSNews.com: So the question wasn’t specifically asked about the Arizona law? You just did the widespread poll to see if it changed, pre- and post?
 
Kohut: That’s right.
 
CNSNews.com: So you did not at all ask about the Arizona law?
 
Kohut: We did ask questions about the Arizona law, but they’re not in this report.
 
Wike: We asked some questions about how people heard about the law and asked people to rate certain leaders on how they’re dealing with the law. Some of that, you can see in this report … there’s a little bit of that in this report.
 
CNSNews.com: I guess the question I wanted to get answered is, how that law was asked (about)?
 
Kohut: The most important thing here is not how that question was asked about the … Arizona law—(It’s) that we did a survey completely comparable on the view of the United States, without any reference to the Arizona law, we got a big difference. The inference that we can draw from that is there’s a backlash in the United States as a consequence of this law.