IMPROVED INTERNATIONAL STANDING…. We heard quite a bit during last year’s presidential campaign about the United States losing some of its international standing during the Bush/Cheney era, and the ways in which Barack Obama could improve our reputation around the world.

The president has only been in office for nine months, but at this point, the shifts in global attitudes are encouraging. (via Zaid Jilani)

The United States is the most admired country globally thanks largely to the star power of President Barack Obama and his administration, according to a new poll.

It climbed from seventh place last year, ahead of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan which completed the top five nations in the Nation Brand Index (NBI).

“What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States for 2009,” said Simon Anholt, the founder of NBI, which measured the global image of 50 countries each year.

He believes that during the previous administration of George W. Bush the United States suffered in the world ranking with its unpopular foreign policies but since Obama was elected, and despite the recent economic turmoil, the country’s status has risen globally.

“There is no other explanation,” Anholt said in an interview, referring to the impact of Obama.

In candor, I’m not especially familiar with the Nation Brand Index survey, which has apparently been around since 2005, so I can’t speak to its methodology or reliability. According to the Reuters report, the survey was conducted with GFK Roper Public Affairs & Media, which frequently works with the Associated Press, and polled “20,000 people in 20 rich and developing countries around the globe” who were asked to “rate 50 nations in categories such as culture, governance, people, exports, tourism, landscape and education.”

That said, these results are very much in line with the survey released in July by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which found a vast improvement in views of the United States since the election of President Obama.

Obviously, international support can change, sometimes rapidly, and the White House may very well pursue a policy in Afghanistan that undermines some of the goodwill that’s reflected in the data.

That said, for those who hoped to see America’s standing improve with the change in administrations, we appear to be taking steps in the right direction.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.