Arabs strongly prefer Clinton over Trump, have dim view of Obama

June 13, 2016  

Citizens in two of America’s two most important Arab allies have a dim view of President Obama, but overwhelmingly prefer his choice of successor – Hillary Clinton – over presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

A study published on Monday by the Institute of Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya polled 935 Egyptian and Saudi citizens over the course of six weeks regarding a wide range of topics including their view of the incumbent US president, the upcoming US elections, the Iran nuclear deal, ISIS, and US involvement in promoting Middle East peace.

The survey revealed that despite his stated aim early in his presidency to improve relations with the Muslim world, view regarded US President Barack Obama as being “a good president for the Muslim world.”

A paltry 16.7% of Egyptians rated Obama as good or very good for the Muslim world, compared to 38.1% who said he was mediocre, and 45.2% who said he was bad or very bad.

Saudi respondents were only marginally more generous in their ratings of Obama, with 19.1% rating him as good or very good, 36.1% who said he was mediocre, and 43.8% who rated him as bad or very bad.

Despite the marks given to the incumbent Democrat, respondents overwhelming preferred likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton, who was formally endorsed by Obama last week, was the preferred candidate among 35.9% of Egyptians and 30.2% of Saudis. Trump, on the other hand, was favored by a mere 3.8% of Egyptians and 6.0% of Saudis. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the second most preferred candidate among Saudi respondents with 7.3%, compared to 8.5% among Egyptians.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who ended his bid for the GOP nomination in May, was the candidate of choice for 6.0% of Saudis – tied with presumptive nominee Trump – and came in second among Egyptians with 10.4%.

However, a plurality of Egyptians and a majority of Saudis did not favor any candidate, and overwhelming majorities in both countries believed the next US president would not change relations with the Arab world for the better.

Only 31.7% of Egyptians and 27.6% of Saudis responded that Obama’s successor would improve relations with the Arab world.

On specific issues of importance to America’s Arab allies, respondents in Egypt and Saudi Arabia were again notably pessimistic about Obama’s successor.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear deal, which was strongly opposed by the majority-Sunni states of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, respondents in both countries overwhelmingly believed Obama’s successor would not nullify the agreement. Only 19.7% of Egyptians and 13.6% of Saudis were optimistic that the next US president would cancel the deal.

Few believed the US would send ground troops to fight ISIS, with only 17.9% of Saudis and 32.3% of Egyptians responding that the next US president would be prepared to commit boots to the ground.

According to the poll, Egyptians and Saudis are also surprisingly cool to American involvement in reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Only 25.5% of Egyptians and 18.9% of Saudis believed the US should help promote such a treaty. A plurality of Egyptians believed the US should not work towards any sort of Arab-Israeli agreement, while a narrow plurality of Saudis favored a regional agreement including Israel.

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