A shocking new poll released by Gallup today reveals that faith in American leadership dropped steeply around the globe in 2017, with approval of U.S. leadership dropping to a historic low of 30%, the lowest since Gallup started the poll in 2007. Additionally, disapproval of U.S. leadership rose to a record 43%. A chart provided by Gallup paints a clear picture of what’s going on.
As you can see, approval of U.S. leadership shot up after 2008, and down in 2017, with disapproval behaving the opposite. It couldn’t be any clearer that there’s a direct correlation between two very important events, one occurring in 2008, and one in 2017. That’s right: 2008 saw the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the 3D animated film bridging the gap between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. On the other hand, 2017 saw the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth installment in the main Star Wars saga. It’s no coincidence that dramatic shifts in U.S. approval ratings coincide directly with the release of these two films.
Just like their effect U.S. leadership approval, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: The Last Jedi mirror each other in critical and audience response. Star Wars: The Clone Wars was panned by critics with an 18% score on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the movie was financially successful, spawning a beloved animated TV show that ran from 2008 to 2014, just long enough to keep approval ratings high until Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in 2015. On the other hand, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was beloved by critics, earning a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the movie proved controversial with fans, who disliked changes made to the original trilogy characters and other creative decisions with the movie.
Additionally, the poll measured median U.S. Leadership approval with that of Germany, China, and Russia, with U.S. approval dipping below China for the first time since 2008. China’s dominance over the U.S. can only be the result of the country’s strong rejection of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which failed to take the top box office spot in its opening weekend against The Ex-File 3: Return of the Exes, a comedy in its second week. The following week, more than 90% of theaters in China dropped Star Wars. Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has earned nearly $600 million at the domestic box office.
We can’t possibly think of any other events that occurred in those time frames that are significant enough to explain these poll numbers, so we’re pretty confident in saying that’s definitely the reason. You can see the Gallup report here.