Feb. 22 (UPI) — A Gallup poll shows Americans this year have a more positive view of Mexico than they have since 2006 mostly due more Democrats viewing the United States’ southern neighbor favorably.
As part of Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey, 64 percent of Americans said they have a “very” or “mostly” favorable view of Mexico, a 5 percent increase from 2016 that also ties the 64 percent seen in 2006.
“After peaking at 74 percent in 2003 and 2005, Americans’ positive views of Mexico fell to 64 percent in 2006 amid heightened publicity about drug and gang wars, and issues related to near-record-high illegal immigration from Mexico,” Gallup wrote in a statement. “Favorable views of the country continued to wane for another five years, bottoming out at 45 percent in 2011 — the lowest rating for Mexico since 1993, just before Californians passed a high-profile anti-immigrant ballot measure.”
Gallup’s poll comes on the heels of President Donald Trump‘s inauguration and his actions related to immigration, such as his attempts to freeze the admittance of refugees and the new guidelines for tougher border security and expanded enforcement of immigration laws.
Dozens of protests have been held nationwide over Trump’s rhetoric and actions related to immigration and refugees.
Gallup said the view Americans have of Mexico has gradually improved since 2011, rising by 19 percent.
“Likely a sympathetic bump in reaction to Trump’s positions on Mexico and Mexican immigrants” generated a record-high 83 percent of Democrats who view Mexico favorably, an increase of 11 percent from 2016, Gallup said.
Gallup said that despite Trump’s rhetoric regarding Mexico, Republicans have viewed Mexico nearly the same for years.
“While many in the GOP share Trump’s opinions on Mexico, his comments and presidential initiatives seem to have had little to no effect on Republicans’ views over the past year,” Gallup wrote.
In 2017, 46 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Mexico, similar to the 44 percent in 2016 during the U.S. presidential campaign and the 43 percent seen in 2015 before Trump announced his candidacy.
There is a 37 percent difference between the positive percentage between Democrats and Republicans — the widest Gallup has seen.
“Given that Democrats’ favorability toward Mexico is at a new high while Republicans’ has barely budged, Mexico’s image may not improve any further unless Republicans’ views become more positive,” Gallup wrote. “While it’s possible that the actions Trump takes in his first year in office could spur support for Mexico beyond just Democrats, a U.S.-Mexico standoff over payment for a border wall could sour Republicans’ views of the country.”
The Gallup poll was conducted from Feb. 1-5 and has a 4 percent margin of error.