The Islamic Post Blog


International Election Polls Told the Story by Khalida
December 1, 2008, 12:52 am
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Front Page News, International, World | Tags:

By Yasmin A. Atheem
Islamic Post Staff Writer

The American polling systems were vindicated in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, showing that pre-election estimates were accurate in not only predicting a win for President-elect Barack Obama, but also what the election could mean for America and the world.
The previously coined term ‘Bradley effect’ was not to be found –where European American voters provide data to pollsters indicating they will vote for an African American candidate, but neglect to lend their support in the voting booth. The term was coined after very strong poll results among European American voters turned into a loss at the voting booth for former mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, CA, an African American.
Not surprisingly, pollsters from more than half the world concurred with the choice of the American people, when they chimed in on the presidential race before the elections, offering a diverse population sample and proving certain sentiments are felt globally.
Research from GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, has shown that the world keenly followed the U.S. presidential elections with attention similar to American citizens. In fact, so closely were the candidates examined that an international consensus showed people as near as Mexico and Canada, and as far away as China and Russia agreeing with America’s next presidential choice.
The BBC World Service published the results of the poll on WorldPublicOpinion.org saying all 22 countries polled preferred President-elect Barack Obama to be elected instead of Republican rival John McCain. People around the world felt “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,” according to the poll.
There are those who feel polls are of little value, like Harvard Crimson journalist, Christopher W. Snyder, who wrote in 2004 that what “polls give us is a way of feeling like we’re not alone in our opinions.”
However, since 1946 with the inception of the UN Security Council, the United States has wielded a great deal of international power as one of five permanent members on the Council who retain the right to vote and also to veto.  This exclusivity makes the label “leader of the free world” more than a figurative term. With only five nations: China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States determining a great deal in the realm of global affairs, people of other countries are concerned about just how much the foreign policies of the new president will effect their lives.
The BBC poll gathered opinions from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and also the United States, with questions on the two major candidates. One of the questions posed asked: “For each of the following possible candidates, if they were elected President, do you think America’s relations with the rest of the world would become a lot better, somewhat better, stay about the same, become somewhat worse, or a lot worse?”
Results indicated: “Americans tend to share the predominant view expressed in other countries that an Obama presidency would improve US relations with the world, with 46 per cent taking that position, 19 per cent saying that relations would stay the same and 27 per cent saying they would get worse. Also similar to the rest of the world, the most common view (held by 41% of Americans) is that relations would remain the same under a McCain presidency, while 30 per cent of Americans think they would get better and 22 percent that they would get worse.
“In fifteen countries the dominant position was that, because Obama is an African-American, if he were to be elected it would fundamentally change their perception of the United States. Not surprisingly it would have the biggest impact on Kenyans (85%) and Nigerians (69%), but large numbers also say they would be impressed in Egypt (65%) and America’s neighbors/allies Mexico (60%), Australia(59%), and Canada (54%). In only two countries do majorities say that it would not fundamentally affect their view of America—Poland (59%) and Lebanon (51%), while a plurality take this position in Turkey (40%) and Russia (26%). In three others, views are divided on this question –Italy, Singapore, and Brazil.”
The polls of this presidential campaign have provided a sounding board where Americans and other citizens of the world have shown they are willing to stand behind a leader that supports peace and unity amongst European and African Americans, Christians and Muslims, the United States and the rest of the world. President-elect Obama’s win signals that the majority of Americans are ready to move towards reconciliation and away from compartmentalization and segregation, which aspirations appear, for now, to be global.
-Researcher Dalya A. Wadud contributed to this report.

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