Those who supported the BJP were more bullish on US President Donald Trump than the supporters of Congress

Most of the other 32 nations polled felt low to very low confidence in the American president’s ability to do the right thing.

Indians have more confidence in President Donald Trump’s handling of world affairs than people of most other countries, according to a new poll of citizens of 32 countries about their views of America and its mercurial president.

Almost six out of 10 Indians - 56 per cent - polled by Pew Research Centre said they felt confident of President Trump’s foreign policy chops, which was way more than the median of 29 per cent of the people polled who felt the same way. Most others expressed low to very low level of trust in him, with Mexicans, no surprises here, most leery at eight per cent.

Though not comparable but instructive, India’s level of confidence in Trump far outstripped the president’s job approval at home of 44 per cent in the average of polls aggregated by RealClearPolitics, a leading aggregator, and 41.9 per cent in the weighted average of polls by FiveThirtyEight, a leading aggregator-forecaster.

Among Indians, those who identified themselves as supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were more bullish on Trump than supporters of the Opposition Congress party by 16 points, 66 per cent to 50 per cent, Pew told Hindustan Times in response to a request for more details about Indian respondents. Trump was more popular among supporters of right-wing parties in other countries as well, including the UK Independence Party and Germany’s Alternatives for Germany.

“Confidence in Trump has increased in India as he has become more visible to the Indian public,” said Jacob Poushter, associate director of global attitudes research at Pew. “When first asked about him in 2016 as a presidential candidate, two-thirds of Indians did not share an opinion of Trump. But in the 2019 survey, only three-in-ten did not answer this particular question.”

Trump started with one-third recognition among Indians in 2016, went up to 40 per cent name recognition and approval in 2017, which was also the year in which divisive forces unleashed by his election led to the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer, and now 56 per cent, two years later (Pew did not poll the confidence question in 2018).

But Indians had somewhat more confidence in President Barack Obama in 2016, his last year in office, with 58 per cent. This is not a comparison Trump will like, if the Pew poll was ever brought to his attention, given his obsessive drive to either undo his predecessor’s initiatives or belittle them.

Gallup conducted the poll for Pew in most countries, including India, where 2,476 respondents were interviewed face to face from June end to early October, a period that included the hugely popular “Howdy Modi” event in Houston in September, an outreach to the Indian diaspora addressed jointly by Modi and Trump. It was aired live in India and was watched by millions of people despite the late hour, given the time difference. Did Trump gain from it?

At 56 per cent, Indians were overtaken only by Philippines (77 per cent), Israel (71 per cent), Kenya (65 per cent) and Nigeria (58 per cent).

Most of the other 32 nations polled felt low to very low confidence in the American president’s ability to do the right thing - only eight per cent of Mexicans said they had confidence in Trump, and not surprisingly, given his nearly constant railing against them from the time he announced his candidature for the White House in the summer of 2015. He had called immigrants from Mexico criminal and rapists at the time, and made building a wall along the border with Mexico a key election promise.

Turks and Germans were the others most leery of Trump with 11 per cent and 13 per cent confidence. And even Russians seemed cool, at 20 per cent, on a man whose election in 2016 had been facilitated by meddling by their government, as alleged by US intelligence and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.