June 16, 2017 | By Craig Kafura

Farewell, Helmut Kohl

By Craig Kafura and Karen Whisler

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has passed away at the age of 87. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ long-running public opinion survey asked how Americans felt about Kohl during his term in 1982, 1986, and again in 1990. In a 0-100 ‘thermometer’ scale Americans were fairly neutral with regard to Kohl, ranking him with a median score in the 50’s. This put him in line with leaders such as Nelson Mandela and French President Francois Mitterrand, above European Commission president Jacques Delors and former US President Richard Nixon, and below figures like UK PM Margaret Thatcher, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and then-President George H. W. Bush. 

Yet Kohl’s West Germany—and after 1990, Germany—were consistently warmly regarded by Americans, both during and following his tenure as Chancellor. 

Though Kohl left politics in 2002, his political legacy lives on. Kohl's 1994 cabinet included as minister for the environment and nuclear safety one Dr. Angela Merkel, who now has had a run of political success nearly as long as Kohl’s, serving as Chancellor since 2005. If she wins reelection to her fourth term this fall, she would have the potential to surpass Kohl as the longest-tenured Chancellor in modern German history. 

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

Archive


| By Craig Kafura

Public Support for Foreign Aid Programs

Past surveys have found that Americans want to cut US spending on foreign assistance and dramatically overestimate how much the US spends on those programs. When asked to construct their own US budget in the 2018 Chicago Council Survey, Americans allocate far more than the US actually spends. 




| By James Drimalla

Bleak Outlook on US-Russia Relations

A new joint report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Analytical Center finds experts have little hope for US-Russia relations in the near future.


| By James Drimalla

Millennials' Divergent Views on Global Affairs

Attitudes and beliefs frequently change from generation to generation and a new joint study from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, CATO Institute, and Charles Koch Institute explores generational differences between the American public on foreign policy issues.



| By Karl Friedhoff

Consequences of Success on the Korean Peninsula

The April 27 inter-Korean summit was largely successful in the eyes of the South Korean public. It has created momentary trust in North Korea, and if that lasts, may lead the public to ask serious questions about the US-South Korea alliance.


| By Karl Friedhoff

The Reunification Spectrum for South Koreans

When it comes to reunification, South Koreans take pause. A quick reunification likely has serious cosequences for the South, and is not much favored by the South Korean public. Instead, the status quo is generally favored, and those views are often conditioned by the actions of North Korea.


| By Karl Friedhoff

Diplomacy in the Air on Korean Peninsula

In the coming months, there will be a flurry of diplomatic activity on the Korean Peninsula. This is good news for many South Koreans, even though the South Korea public still has doubts about North Korea's true intentions.


| By Dzena Berbic, Craig Kafura

America and the Millennial Agenda

Millennials have become the most populous living generation in the United States, overtaking Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in becoming the largest voting body. So what do Millennials want, and what are some of their noticeable generational differences? A recent Chicago Council on Global Affairs event featuring Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL2), former Congressman Bob Dold (R-IL10), POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki, and Council pollster Craig Kafura, discussed Millennial attitudes and the Millennial political agenda.



| By Craig Kafura

O Christmas Tree

Christmas is a widely-celebrated holiday in the United States. Though the Christmas tree remains a popular symbol, Americans are changing the kind of tree they use in their homes—and a small but rising number are opting to celebrate without a tree altogether.