Study Looks at American Perceptions of Germany

AmerGerThe following article was first published on April 5, 2016, on www.germany.info, the website of the German Missions in the United States.  Published by permission of the German Consulate General Houston.

The majority of Americans view Germany in a positive light and Germany is considered the top non-English speaking U.S. partner, according to a new study financed by the German Information Center and conducted by Magid Associates. Germany is also considered to be in the top five most influential countries on U.S. politics, and 62 percent of Americans believe Germany and the U.S. have a close bond. The data was presented at the German Marshall Fund on April 5, where it was followed by a panel discussion of modern-day German-American relations.

Perceptions of Germany-U.S. relations have rebounded since the NSA-Merkel phone tapping incident several years ago. Americans also perceive Germany as a major economic power and believe Germany has strengthened its leadership role in Europe. And while Americans express concern over the threats related to the refugee migration in Europe, they also perceive Germany’s response to the crisis as a better one than that of the U.S.

 The study also looked at perceptions of Germany among the U.S. population and examined how these perceptions were affected by significant events such as last year’s incident with German car manufacturer Volkswagen, as well as the refugee crisis in Europe. These topics were discussed by panelists Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, a Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Dr. Stephen F. Szabo, executive director of the Transatlantic Academy. Dr. Stefan Buchwald, director of the German Information Center, introduced the study and Andrew Hare, Director of Research and Strategy at Magid Associates, presented the data. Dr. Marcus Pindur, a Deutschlandradio correspondent, moderated the discussion.

The study was conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates from February 17-22, 2016. The online study surveyed 1,500 Americans age 18 and older. The margin of error is +/- 2.6% at the 95% confidence level. Download the PDF (at www.germany.info, right column) for full survey results.

Highlights:

  • STRONG IMPRESSION: The majority of Americans continue to view Germany in a positive light, however, their impression is the lowest it has been in 6 years.
  • A MAJOR GLOBAL POWER: Germany is increasingly seen as a major global power. While considered economically strong, perception of research/tech has taken a slight hit.
  • IMPROVED RELATIONS: Perceptions of Germany-U.S. relations have rebounded following the NSA-Merkel phone tapping leak, and are near the highest point since 9/11.
  • PARTNERS BEYOND LANGUAGE: Germany is considered the top non-English speaking partner, although France, Japan and China are considered nearly as important.
  • TOP TIER OF INFLUENCE: Germany remains in the top 5 as most influential countries on U.S. politics. Russia has risen in perceived influence, now on-par with Israel.
  • KEY ALLY IN FIGHT AGAINST TERROR: Germany is seen as an important ally in the fight against terrorism but majority of Americans believe Germany could have a more active military role
  • ECONOMIC PARTNER & COMPETITOR: Germany is widely perceived as a major economic power, but one that is both essential global partner and competitor to the U.S.
  • TTIP: Majority of Americans believe the TTIP is beneficial to the EU and the US.
  • VW SCANDAL COULD HAVE MAJOR LASTING EFFECTS: The Volkswagen incident appears to be an extremely significant setback to VW. While the VW incident is widely considered to be an isolated case, 40% believe that it will ultimately harm Germany’s economy in the long term. 28% lost confidence in the brand Made in Germany.
  • UNINFORMED ON EU: The majority of Americans do not feel informed about the EU. However, the majority of Americans also feel that the EU is a key partner and want the EU to stay strong.
  • GERMANY LEADING EUROPE: Americans see Germany as wanting and having a strong role in Europe. Germany is also seen as strengthening its leadership role in the past few years. Americans expect Germany to assume a leading role in Europe.
  • HANDLING MIGRANT SITUATION: Germany is seen as responding better to the migrant situation than the U.S. or E.U.
  • CAUTION AHEAD: The majority of Americans see Germany taking responsibility/leadership in the migrant situation. However, Americans also believe that the migrant situation poses serious threats to Germany and could affect continued prosperity.