Source: Arab American Institute

For the first time in two decades, U.S. opinion toward Egypt is in sharp decline with an overall favorability of 33%, according to a poll released by the Arab American Institute today. In July 2011, AAI polling showed 5% of Egyptians held a favorable view of the U.S. The poll released today was conducted by JZ Analytics for NYU Abu Dhabi in January 2012, and surveyed 997 Americans nationwide.

Key findings include:

  • Americans hold a net negative view of Egypt
  • Americans are wary of the Muslim Brotherhood's role in government
  • Americans are sharply divided along partisan lines when it comes to future U.S.-Egyptian relations
  • 60% of Americans say they need to know more about Egypt; 55% say their knowledge about Egypt comes from the media

AAI President Jim Zogby stated, "The American and Egyptian people are further apart than ever before. As Egyptians move closer to representative democracy, our differences could have serious implications for bilateral policy." Zogby added, "While it is easy to play politics with this relationship as is happening with attacks on the President by some Republican presidential candidates, the growing gap between us must be taken seriously. Egypt remains the largest and most important Arab country and the US-Egyptian relationship is a strategic one. What happens there will impact our role in the entire region."

Poll summary:

Conducted in January 2012 by jzanalytics for NYU Abu Dhabi, the poll shows that the continued turmoil in Egypt, the behavior of the military authority (SCAF), and questions about the Muslim Brotherhood's new leadership role have dramatically altered U.S. perceptions of Egypt. Now only 33% of Americans have a favorable attitude toward Egypt, with 34% holding a negative view (and 33% saying they are "not sure").

In the past, Egypt always fared quite well in U.S. opinion. Since the 1990's Egypt's favorable ratings have been between 55% to 65%, while the country's unfavorable ratings were around 20%. In the last year of President Mubarak's rule, positive U.S. opinions toward Egypt declined, slipping into the high 40% range. But with positive U.S. media coverage of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, favorable ratings shot up, increasing 20 points.

One year later, some Americans are uneasy with political developments in Egypt. When asked specifically how they felt about the Muslim Brotherhood winning control of the parliament, only 4% said this was a "positive development for Egypt". Just 19% agreed "this was the outcome of a democratic election and we must accept the results," while 26% said that this represented a "setback for Egypt" (a view held by 42% of Republicans). A substantial 39% were "not sure."