Ok, pop quiz: who can name the current head of state in Japan? Brazil?  How about our neighbor, Canada?  What are the major political parties in those countries?  Their systems of government?  If you’re like me, and probably most Joe-plumber-six-pack Americans, you didn’t do too well, but ask someone in another country those same questions about the U.S. and you bet s/he will know the answers and more.  With mere weeks left before our biggest national election, it’s easy to forget that Americans are not the only ones anxiously watching the polls and rooting for their favorite candidate.

 

So who is the world rooting for? Barack Obama, in a landslide.

 

At least according to a few different international polls.  The first, conducted by Readers Digest Magazine before the conventions found that 16 out of 17 countries preferred Obama – the 17th being the U.S.  A second poll conducted by Globescan during July and August confirmed these results.  Over 22,000 people in 22 countries were asked to choose between Obama and McCain, and again, Barack was favored in all countries with an average of 49% voting Obama compared to 12% choosing McCain.   A third poll conducted this month by newspapers in Canada, France, Switzerland, Poland, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, and the UK had the same results.  When asked “Would McCain be a good or bad president?” Between 20% (Fr) and 57% (Pol) said very good, though much fewer would vote for him (5-26% range).  Obama’s results were double this, with a 59% (Pol) – 89% (Swi) range on the first question, and a 43%(Pol)-83%(Swi) range on the second. 

 

Naturally, there are innumerable factors that could account for this global preference for Obama.  As Reader’s Digest points out, McCain’s campaign is very focused on American values, while Obama’s ideas are a bit more accessible to a global audience.  Furthermore, Obama is seen as more of a “global citizen” and the most likely candidate to take action on global warming, withdraw troops from Iraq sooner rather than later, and avoid military intervention in Iran – positions favored by many of the countries polled.  While there are clearly baises and countries excluded in all of these polls, it certainly casts the foreign policy question in a different light – sure, McCain may have more experience, but if our allies prefer Obama, isn’t that what matters?  Domestic issues are another story, but it is certainly valuable to know what other nations are thinking and consider why this is the case.  Has Bush so injured the Republican’s global credit, or is Obama’s message truly more universal?  Interesting points to consider.  And even more interesting is the countries McCain would carry – Cuba, Moldova, Macedonia, and Georgia in the Economist’s Global electoral college.  Hmm.  But that’s another post. 

Laura Kavanaugh

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