Foreign Poll Favours Democrat But Shows Hostility to US
International survey says people worldwide pinning hopes on Obama in next month's presidential election
People around the world are pinning their hopes on Barack Obama in next month's presidential election, according to an international survey published today. It shows that America can no longer count on the friendship even of its closest neighbors and allies after eight years of the Bush presidency. Only a minority in the countries surveyed describe relations with the US as friendly.
The research, carried out by eight leading newspapers including the Guardian, finds overwhelming support for the Democratic candidate. He would win by a landslide in every country surveyed, including Britain, where he is ahead of the Republican candidate John McCain by 64% to 15%.
Support for Obama is stronger than backing for John Kerry in 2004, when the Guardian participated in a similar polling exercise. Then, the Democrat was the preferred candidate of 50% of British people.
The poll, conducted by papers including France's Le Monde, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, Canada's La Presse and Mexico's Reforma, also shows that opinion of America has dropped sharply since the start of the decade. In France 75% say their view of the US has got worse or much worse since President George Bush replaced Bill Clinton in 2001; in Canada 77%; in Switzerland 86% and in Japan 62%.
People everywhere have turned to Obama. He would win by a simple majority in six of the eight countries surveyed, including Canada, where he leads McCain by 70%-14%, and Japan, where the margin is 61%-13%.
French voters are even more hostile to the Republican candidate, who gets the backing of only 5%, against 68% who hope Obama will win.
In British results, from ICM/Guardian polling, 67% of voters say their opinion of the US is worse than it was before the Bush presidency began. Only 21% say it has improved.
But the special relationship endures. People in Britain are more likely than in any of the other seven countries surveyed to say relations are friendly: 49% think this is the case, against 18% who say relations are tense and 30% who say they are neutral.
Support for an Obama presidency is strong among all types of voters in Britain - 64% want him to win. He is most popular among more prosperous voters, where he has 71% backing, and least popular among people at the bottom of the socio-economic scale, 54% of whom want him to become president.
Elsewhere, only in Poland and Mexico, both emerging democracies, is there any hesitation about the prospect of an Obama victory. In Poland he leads by 43% to 26% and in Mexico by 46% to 13%.
Many people now fear rather than warm to America. In France 25% of voters say relations with the US are tense, against 38% who say they are friendly and 39% who think they are neutral. In Japan only 16% say friendship and 19% tension, with 62% neutral. In no country does a majority think relations should be described as friendly.
Even America's two neighboring states are skeptical of US intentions. Only 23% of Mexicans describe relations as friendly and 28% say they are tense. In Canada, which has just re-elected a Conservative minority government, voters are strongly supportive of a Democratic presidency; 43% say relations with the US are friendly and 14% tense.
The survey also finds strong opposition to any attack on Iran and - in the six countries questioned on the issue - majority support for a rapid withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.
The possibility of military intervention in Iran is opposed by a majority everywhere except in Poland and Britain.
In Britain 47% say the next president should specifically rule out an attack, against 42% who say options should be left open.
Each newspaper involved in the survey used professional polling organizations, including ICM for the Guardian in Britain. Research was carried out this month, except in Poland, where polling took place in September.
Although the methodologies used differ - which may affect exact comparisons - the scale of Obama's lead everywhere outweighs any variation in results.
Research was carried out by: La Presse, Canada (1,500 telephone sample); the Guardian, UK (1,007 telephone, October 10-12 2008); Le Temps, Switzerland (600 telephone); Le Monde, France (1,000 face to face); Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan (3,000 face to face); Reforma, Mexico (850 telephone); Le Soir, Belgium (1,007 telephone); Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland, (1,000 telephone)
© Guardian News & Media 2008