New Chicago Council Survey Finds American Opinion of Mexico Mixed

April 29, 2013
April 29, 2013 CHICAGO - In advance of President Obama’s visit to Mexico later this week, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in conjunction with The Woodrow Wilson Center, today released a public opinion survey brief on Americans’ views toward Mexico. Findings show Americans’ overall views of Mexico are at their lowest point ever in Chicago Council Surveys dating back to 1994. It also finds relatively few Americans are aware that Mexico is one of our top trading partners.

At the same time, however, a majority of Americans still say that ties with Mexico are important and consider Mexico an economic partner (versus rival). Taken together, the results suggest that increased public awareness of bilateral endeavors could boost support for increased economic and energy integration in the future.

President Obama is expected to discuss ways to deepen U.S.- Mexico economic relations and reinforce cultural and commercial ties between the two countries. While still plagued by issues related to organized crime, Mexico’s economy today is one of the world’s fastest growing, and Mexico is the United States’ second largest trading partner and third largest source of oil.

The brief on Americans’ views toward Mexico is based on the results of a survey of public opinion conducted from April 12 to 15. GfK Custom Research conducted the survey for The Chicago Council using a randomly selected sample of 1,017 adults age 18 and older from their large-scale, nationwide online research panel, recruited using address-based sampling. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.1 percentage points. Download the brief (PDF).

Key findings include:
  • Favorable ratings of Mexico are at their lowest point ever in Chicago Council Surveys, dating back to 1994. Mexico receives a mean rating of 43 on a thermometer scale of how Americans feel towards other nations (with 0 meaning a very cold, unfavorable feeling; 100 meaning a very warm, favorable feeling; and 50 being neutral).
  • A majority of Americans consider Mexico an important country to the United States and twice as many say it is an economic partner than an economic rival.
  • Relatively few Americans are aware that Mexico is one of our top trading partners. While most Americans know that Mexico is currently among the top ten trading partners to the United States, relatively few (20%) accurately identify Mexico as being one of the top five.
  • As in 2004, more Americans believe that Mexico has benefitted from NAFTA than the United States. At the same time, more now say that NAFTA has had a good impact on the US economy than in 2004 (50% now, 42% in 2004). There has little change in the percentage who say that NAFTA has been good for American companies (55%), and creating jobs in the US (38%).
  • A majority of Americans believe that Mexico is working in a different rather than same direction on energy production, securing the border, combating organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.
  • A majority say the United States should have greater responsibility for dealing with the smuggling of guns and assault weapons from the United States into Mexico, where they are illegal. Americans are somewhat more divided on who should take the lead on dealing with illegal drug trafficking from Mexico into the United States.

This survey was made possible by generous support from Douglas A. Doetsch, Evans Food Group, Ltd., Rob and Kitty Lansing, Clare Muñana, and The Quaker Oats Company, a division of PepsiCo.