Poll: World opinion of US leadership at lowest point of Obama’s tenure

By contrast, 25 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the job performance of America's leadership, up from 21 percent in 2009.

The declines were driven primarily by souring opinions of the United States in Europe and Africa. A mere 36 percent of Europeans approve of American leadership, down from 47 percent at the start of Obama's first term. In Africa, seven in 10 approve of American leadership — an impressive number, but down 15 percent from just four years ago. The two nations that saw the sharpest drops from last year were Zambia (a loss of 24 percentage points) and Madagascar (down 22 points from last year.)

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"U.S. leadership faces increasing challenges as it attempts to build engagement worldwide, and in many places, this job may be even tougher than it has been in the past," said Gallup's Julie Ray in a statement. "U.S. leadership thus far has been unable to recoup the favor it lost among audiences in key countries in 2011 and has continued to lose support in many places."

Still, American leadership scores far higher than it did during the Bush administration. In 2008, an even 34 percent both approved and disapproved of American leadership. In Europe, 58 percent disapproved while 18 percent approved, and in Asia, 38 percent disapproved while 31 percent approved.