Impressions of America, in a word: Trump, president, chaos, in that order

WASHINGTON — Canadians, it seems, had a number of choice words for the United States last year — and most of them revolved around President Donald Trump.

The Washington-based Pew Research Center asked Canadian and Mexican respondents to cite the first word that came to mind when thinking of the U.S. — and "Trump" was the top choice for 163 participants north of the border.

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"President" ranked a distant second with 22 mentions, followed by "chaos," "confused," bully" and "disappointing," in that order.

"Overall, both Canadians and Mexicans use mostly negative or neutral words to describe the U.S., and only a small portion mention a positive word," the institute said Monday in releasing a snippet of findings from its latest Global Attitudes survey, conducted last spring.

"President Donald Trump’s name is by far the most frequently mentioned word in Canada, followed by a range of primarily negative descriptors."

In Mexico, "money" was the first thing that came to mind for respondents with 57 mentions, followed by "work" at 53 and "bad" at 50. "Trump" ranked fourth with 46 mentions, followed by "migration."

The results predate the outbreak of COVID-19, which has been testing Canada-U.S. relations in recent weeks — first as the two countries negotiated a partial closing of their shared border while maintaining the flow of trade and commerce, and more recently as the Trump White House seeks to restrict the export of vital protective medical gear manufactured by American companies.

While the survey classifies the top two Canadian answers as neutral terms, it concludes that fully half of the country's respondents held negative sentiments towards the U.S., with 39 per cent considered neutral and only six per cent positive.

By contrast, the balance in Mexico was strikingly different: 31 per cent negative, 40 per cent neutral and 11 per cent positive.

Terms were classified as positive or negative "only when it was clear that responses leaned one way or the other," the institute said.

"For example, mentions of simply 'Trump' were coded as neutral, whereas a response of 'Trump is an idiot' was coded as negative and 'Trump is doing a fair job' was coded as positive."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2020.

— Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyle

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