World wants Obama to be next US president: poll

Posted at 09/09/08 10:22 PM

LONDON - Most people across the world would prefer Democrat Barack Obama to win the US presidential election over his Republican rival John McCain, a new poll spanning 22 countries showed Tuesday.

The BBC World Service survey found the most common view in all nations polled was that Obama -- who staged a euphoric European tour two months ago that included a speech to 200,000 fans in Berlin -- should win in November.

An average of 46 percent of all those questioned thought US relations with the rest of the world would improve if Obama took office, compared to just 20 percent for McCain, the survey of 22,500 people found.

Global approval ratings for the United States are currently low -- a BBC World Service poll earlier this year found 49 percent of people surveyed had a negative view of US influence, compared to 32 who viewed it positively.

Those most optimistic about an Obama presidency's impact on US external relations were people in America's NATO allies -- Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Italy -- as well as Australia, Nigeria and Kenya, where Obama has family.

Forty-six percent said having a black US president would "fundamentally change" their perception of the United States, and 27 percent said it would not.

"Large numbers of people around the world clearly like what Barack Obama represents," said Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan which conducted the poll.

"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 Bush administration's relations with the world."

However, there is nothing to suggest Obama's popularity abroad will bring success at home -- he is neck and neck with McCain in US opinion polls, and a similar BBC survey before the 2004 US election found strong global support for John Kerry, the Democrat who eventually lost to incumbent George Bush.

In Tuesday's poll, the margin in favour of Obama ranged from just nine percent in India to 82 percent in Kenya. On average, 49 percent preferred Obama to 12 percent in favour of McCain.

Nearly four in 10 people did not take a position, with this attitude most common in Russia, Singapore, Turkey, India and Egypt.

An average of 46 percent thought US-world relations would improve under Obama, 22 percent thought they would stay the same and seven percent thought they would get worse.

Only 20 percent thought relations would improve under McCain, although this figure was around 30 percent in China, India and Nigeria. An average 37 percent expected no change and 16 percent thought relations would get worse.

A separate poll in the United States mirrored these conclusions, with 46 percent expecting better relations under Obama and 30 percent under McCain.

The survey was carried out in July and August in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States.