Obama Clear Winner in World Opinion

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by
Inter Press Service

Obama Clear Winner in World Opinion

by
Ali Gharib

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute awards gala in Washington, September 10, 2008. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

WASHINGTON - In a new international poll by the BBC World Service, all 22 countries surveyed would prefer that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama wins the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4.

The 22 countries, drawn from six continents, preferred Obama over his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, by an average four to one margin.

The poll confirms the conventional wisdom that, while the race is tightening in the polls at home, the world wants to see an Obama presidency -- a notion that was mocked by the McCain campaign after an Obama speech in Berlin attended by 200,000 people.

'Large numbers of people around the world clearly like what Barack Obama represents,' said Doug Miller, the chairman of the international polling firm Globescan, who conducted the poll for the BBC with the help of University of Maryland's Programme on International Policy Attitudes.

In another question in the BBC poll, more than three-quarters of the countries said that an Obama presidency would see improved U.S. relations with the rest of the world. On average, 46 percent of respondents think that relations would get better with Obama at the helm, 22 percent said they would stay the same, and 7 percent thought they would get worse.

One in five of those surveyed thought that a McCain presidency would bring better relations between the U.S. and the world. A plurality of 37 percent said that relations under McCain would stay the same, and 16 percent thought that they would get worse.

'Given how negative America's international image is at present, it is quite striking that only one in five think a McCain presidency would improve on the [George W.] Bush administration's relations with the world,' said Miller in a statement releasing the poll results.

A BBC World Service poll earlier this year showed that nearly half of the people in countries surveyed viewed U.S. influence on the world negatively.

In the recent poll, the U.S.'s allies in NATO -- many of whom did not participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as the non-NATO 'coalition of the willing' -- were the most optimistic that an Obama presidency would bring better relations.

More than 60 percent of respondents in Canada, France, German, and Italy, and over half of those surveyed in Britain said Obama would improve strained relations with the world.

Only China, Nigeria and India thought that a McCain presidency would improve relations with the rest of the world and in all three places that preference was only by a 'modest margin' over Obama.

In a separate poll released with the results of the international poll, U.S. citizens agreed with the prevailing world opinion that Obama stood a better chance of improving relations with the world. Nearly half thought that an Obama-led U.S. would have better relations with the globe, and 26 percent expected relations to be improved under McCain.

In Kenya, where Obama has roots through his father, people overwhelming support an Obama presidency -- 87 percent, the largest majority of the countries surveyed -- and nearly nine in 10 surveyed said both that they think U.S. relations with the world will improve and that 'their perception of the U.S. would fundamentally change' were Obama elected.

Nearly half of respondents worldwide -- and majorities and pluralities of 15 of the 22 countries polled -- agreed with the Kenyans on the issue of a 'fundamental change' in their perception of the U.S. Just over a quarter said their image of the U.S. would remain static if Obama is elected.

Just as in the U.S., Obama's international support was especially strong among young respondents and well-educated respondents. But the gaps with older and less-educated respondents were not significant.

While over half of those surveyed under the age of 35 supported Obama, his support among respondents over 55 years old was nearly equally strong at 47 percent. Six in 10 of those with university-level education and four in 10 of those with only primary education preferred Obama.

Turkey was the only country where significantly more people thought that U.S.-world relations would suffer from an Obama presidency rather than a McCain presidency. But in an apparent contradiction, Turks preferred Obama to be president.

Several of the countries polled had a majority of respondents showing no preference for either candidate. Most notably was recently re-emergent Russia, with fully three quarters of the respondents failing to express a preference. Middle Eastern countries Turkey and Egypt also had majorities of just over 60 percent with no preference.

 

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