It’s Unanimous: The World Prefers Obama

by Kevin Jon Heller

I hereby nominate all Kenyans for US citizenship:

All 22 countries in a BBC World Service poll would prefer Democratic nominee Barack Obama elected US president instead of his Republican rival John McCain. Obama is preferred by a four to one margin on average across the 22,000 people polled.

The margin in favour of Obama ranges from just 9 per cent in India to 82 per cent in Kenya. On average 49 per cent prefer Obama to 12 per cent preferring McCain. Nearly four in ten do not take a position.

The poll also explored the expected impact of the US election. In 17 of the 22 countries surveyed the most common view is that, if Barack Obama is elected president, America’s relations with the rest of the world are likely to get better. If John McCain is elected, the most common view in 19 countries is that relations will stay about the same as they are now.

On average 46 per cent think that US relations with the world would get better with Obama, 22 per cent that relations would stay the same, and 7 per cent that they would get worse. However only 20 per cent think relations would get better under McCain. The largest number – 37 per cent – think relations under a McCain presidency would stay the same and 16 per cent think they would get worse.

The countries most optimistic that an Obama presidency would improve relations are America’s NATO allies – Canada (69%), France (62%), Germany (61%), United Kingdom (54%), Italy (64%) – as well as Australia (62%) and the African countries Kenya (87%) and Nigeria (71%).

Despite the preference for an Obama victory in all countries, significant proportions in several said they do not favor either candidate, favour both equally or do not know which would be preferable. This was particularly the case in Russia, where 75 per cent do not express a preference between the candidates, but also in Turkey (63%) and Egypt (61%).


The countries with the largest majorities favouring Obama as US president are Kenya (87%), Italy (76%), France (69%), Australia (67%), Canada (66%), and Germany (65%). While no country has more favouring McCain, in five countries the largest numbers do not take a position either way and thus the per cent in favour of Obama is fairly small. These include Russia (18% for Obama), Singapore (29%), Turkey (26%), India (24%), and Egypt (26%).

I think Russians need to read the newspapers more closely, given that one of the candidates has said that “today, we are all Georgians” and picked a VP candidate who just told Charlie Gibson that the US might have to go to war with Russia if it invades another country…

6 Responses

  1. This is hardly new news. Heck, two months ago Pew Global Attitude Projects released their most recent world-wiz survey… with the <i>exact</i> same results.  

    And THEY had cool graphics to back it up:

    ~T. Greer, thinking that the reason Russians, Egyptians and Turks don’t care who will win is because they think American policies will be the same, regardless of who wins. Again, see the previosuly cited report…

  2. As an Indian, I personally am divided between Obama and McCain. Both seem “committed” towards building relations with India. It seems like both will contribute equally towards India’s development in the International scenario. However, Obama seems slightly better.

  3. What seems surprising is that Berlusconi’s Italy is the second biggest Obama supporter after Kenya.

    Maybe, all in all, Italian media coverage of the contest is Obama-leaning. – Or may that just be that Obama is preferred among BBC-news-reading Italians? (This is definitely not a reliable statistical group to ascertain what Italians think, that is).

  4. My question is, historically, aren’t democratic candidates preferred overseas compared to republicans?

    Can anyone think of a counter-example?

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