Americans and Russians Agree U.S. is No. 1, But Disagree on the Up and Comers

Americans and Russians Agree U.S. is No. 1, But Disagree on the Up and Comers

July 10, 2006


The United States is unquestionably the world’s dominant nation, Russians and Americans agree. But while Russians put themselves among today’s top three powers—and believe they will play a larger role in the future—Americans see China as their chief rival for global influence.

A new joint poll by and the Levada Center got these and other results from representative samples of the American and Russian publics surveyed in June and early July, 2006.

Asked to rate the influence of 11 countries on a scale of 0 to 10, respondents in both countries gave by far the highest score to the United States. Americans on average give their own nation an 8.77; Russians give their former Cold War rivals an 8.74. No other country is given a score higher than 8 by either public.

But that is where bilateral agreement ends. Russians look West for the next most important world power, ranking the European Union as No. 2, with a score of 7.14. They choose themselves as No. 3, giving the Russian Federation a score of 6.56.

Americans, in contrast, see their closest rival in the East, selecting China as the second most influential country in the world. China, already an economic power in Asia and an emerging military force, gets a score of 6.63, a hair higher than the United States’ closest international ally, Great Britain, which gets 6.61.

Americans don’t give Russia much weight in the world: the former super power is ranked No. 6 with a score of 5.67. That’s after Japan (6.20) and the E.U. (5.78).

Nor do most Americans see Russians as increasing their influence over the next ten years. A majority (55%) say Russian power will stay about the same. A quarter (24%) say it will increase and 18 percent say it will decline. Again, Americans see China as the country most likely to gain more power in the immediate future: 70 percent say Chinese influence will increase, 24 percent say it will stay the same and only 3 percent believe it will decline.

Most Russians, however, think their country will play a larger role on the world stage in the near future. Sixty percent say Russia will become more influential over the next decade; 22 percent say their influence will stay the same and seven percent say it will decline. They are less sure about China. Half (50%) say Chinese power will increase, 27 percent say it will stay the same and 6 percent say it will decrease.

On India, about half of both Americans (51%) and Russians (50%) think its power will remain about the same. But more Americans (38%) than Russians (21%) think the world’s most populous democracy will increase its influence.

On the European Union, half of Americans (51%) think its influence in the world will not change; 36 percent think it will rise and 11 percent believe it will decline. A plurality of Russians (39%) believe the E.U. will play a larger role in the world, 33 percent say its influence will stay the same and 9 percent say it will shrink.

In Russia, Levada Center polled 1,600 respondents (margin of error +/-2.5%) June 9-14, 2006. In the United States, Knowledge Networks polled 1,059 respondents (margin of error +/- 3.1) from June 27-July 2, using its nationwide panel, which is randomly selected from the entire adult population and subsequently provided internet access. For more information about this methodology, go to Knowledge Networks.


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