A just-released study by U.S. research firm Gallup finds that almost two-thirds of Americans view Mexico favorably. Although high, the favorability rating is lower than during the first term of George W. Bush when relations with Mexico were much stronger.
Gallup says that positive views of Mexico hit a high in the 2003 – 2005 period when favorability ratings peaked at 74 percent but then slid to just 45 percent by 2011, primarily affected by media coverage of drug and gang wars. This month’s poll shows 64 percent of Americans view Mexico favorably.
Since 2011, Gallup says, Mexico’s image has risen 19 percentage points among Americans. What’s driving the stronger favorability rating? Democrats. A record high 83 percent of Democrats view Mexico favorably, which is up 11 percentage points since last year. Gallup says it is most likely a sympathetic bump in reaction to Trump’s positions on Mexico and Mexican immigrants in the U.S., especially in the wake of the recently announced immigration enforcement changes that will cast a far wider net over the undocumented and subject many more of them to deportation.
As for Republicans, just 46 percent have a favorable opinion of Mexico, which is just a few points higher than Gallup’s 2015 measurement. Independents were wedged between the two major parties with 65 percent of independents viewing Mexico favorably.
Gallup says the gap between the two major U.S. political parties is the widest it has been in decades. In fact, the difference between the views of Republicans and Democrats is “among the largest for any of the 20 countries measured in this year’s World Affairs poll,” Gallup points out.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly meet today with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto ostensibly to allow Trump’s new emissaries to establish relationships and coordinate on bilateral issues with Mexico. And, we hope, to begin repairing the damage to the relationship of the two neighbors.
Gallup believes that Mexico’s image among Americans will not improve further unless Republicans become more positive toward Mexico. “While it’s possible that the actions Trump takes in his first year in office could spur support for Mexico beyond just Democrats, a U.S. – Mexico standoff over payment for a border wall could sour Republicans’ view of the country.”
Expats in Mexico come in all political stripes. We hope all of those stripes are united behind improving relations between the two countries, which have recently become badly damaged by the new administration.