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Here’s what the rest of the world is saying about Donald Trump

- December 18, 2015
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at an event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Randall Hill

One of the biggest domestic political stories of 2015 has been the rise of Donald Trump. One thing fueling his meteoric rise has been the near-constant deluge of free media coverage.

In fact, with his latest proposal to pause Muslim immigration, Trump has reached a new milestone, accounting as of Dec. 9 for 76 percent of all mentions of the 2016 presidential candidates  and 82 percent of all mentions of the GOP candidates on domestic national television news:


Percent of all national television news mentions of 2016 GOP presidential candidates since Donald Trump entered the race

Donald Trump appears tuned into the desires and beliefs of a subset of the American electorate, and he delivers messages well-crafted to their fears and beliefs, all while shooting from the hip without massive data analytics, speechwriters, focus groups, or poll-testing.

At the same time, many of Trump’s proposals — such as deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslim immigrants — would involve big shifts in American foreign policy. This raises the question of how these proposals are being received elsewhere in the world.

To explore this in more detail, the GDELT Project, which monitors and live-translates worldwide news media in 65 languages, was used to identify more than 700,000 world news that mentioned Donald Trump from February to November 2015. The map below colors each country by the percent of all coverage monitored by GDELT from that country that mentioned Trump, from light yellow (very little coverage) to dark red (substantial coverage).

Clicking on the map below will launch the interactive version that allows you to select any country and see a list of 50 randomly selected articles from news outlets in that country that discuss Trump, making it possible to browse the myriad global reactions to his statements.

Map of percent of articles monitored from each country February to November 2015 mentioning Donald Trump (Click to launch interactive clickable map) https://gdelt.cartodb.com/viz/7da97892-99d4-11e5-ba3e-0e3ff518bd15/embed_map)

Map of percent of articles monitored from each country February to November 2015 mentioning Donald Trump (Click to launch interactive clickable map)

Keep in mind that this process was entirely automated. Undoubtedly there is a certain degree of error in this map. It is simply not possible to monitor every news outlet in existence and so GDELT does not capture all media in every country. Automated article identification, machine translation, geolocation of each news outlet, and other processes can all introduce error. Nevertheless, this tool offers an unprecedented look at the global reaction to Trump.

[How Trump’s attacks on Muslims brought him more media coverage than ever.]

Selecting articles at random from across the world yields a fascinating range of perspectives.

  • In Indonesia, coverage of the controversial politician Setya Novanto notes his appearance at a Trump campaign rally in September.
  • Some Chinese coverage focuses on how even as Trump denounces offshoring of American jobs to China, the gift shops in his own buildings profit from selling Chinese goods.
  • An July article in Uruguay notes that as Trump ramps up his anti-immigration rhetoric, his poll numbers go up among Republicans.
  • In Peru, there is coverage of how Trump has criticized Mexico as “corrupt” and is demanding a boycott and barrier wall, but that his tone has also been more conciliatory, blaming the current U.S. administration for immigration issues.
  • In Ethiopia, one article compares the immigration and refugee policies of Trump and the current GOP to those of President Reagan.
  • An article in Pakistan focuses on President Obama’s Syrian refugee policy compared with Trump and Carson’s.
  • This article from Iran rebukes President Obama’s comments that it should focus on its unemployment issues by detailing the current state of American unemployment and citing Trump’s comments that this is paralyzing the American economy.
  • A Malaysian article about Sen. Bernie Sanders quotes Trump as labeling him a “socialist slash communist.”
  • A piece in Algeria comments on Trump’s utter dominance of news coverage of the race.
  • A Libyan commentator prefers Hillary Clinton to Trump even in spite of her handling of the Benghazi situation.

These are just a few of the perspectives from the map above, showing just how differently (yet often how similarly) the countries and cultures of the world are reacting to Trump.

For better or worse, our political campaigns are windows through which the rest of the world perceives the United States.

Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.