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US Election: What Does the World Think?

We’ve been keeping track of the global opinion of the US Presidential election for well over a year now, but the international angle has seen a lot of attention recently.

The US uses a system called the Electoral College to determine the winner of a presidential election. Basically, each state is worth a certain number of points based on how many people live there, and the candidate with the most points wins the election.

On their website, The Economist has converted the entire world into an electoral college system. The experiment is on-going but at the time of posting, the only countries supporting John McCain were Macedonia and Georgia. Last week I saw Slovakia turn red and then go back to blue.

This manner of scoring exaggerates the roughly 80%-20% split we have found in our polls. I would be interested to know what is making certain eastern European countries lean toward McCain since I can’t think of anything that would have that effect. Perhaps they like his policy on Russia? It seems both candidates support protecting Russia’s neighbors.

CNN recently released a video with short segments from more than a dozen countries about what they think about the election following the vice presidential debate between McCain’s running mate Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and Obama’s partner, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. Except for Russia itself, none of these countries is in eastern Europe, so the questions raised by the global electoral college remain unanswered. But each of the responses are interesting and some of them are very funny. Below is a summary of each report and the video.

* South Korean moms don’t know much about Palin’s policies, but they like that she’s a mom.
* Iraqis are generally too busy with daily life to worry about the US election.
* Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf recently called Palin “gorgeous” which embarrassed some Pakistanis and made others like her.
* The Japanese are primarily concerned with the fact that Palin’s glasses were made by a Japanese designer.
* Both Candidates support Israel, so Israel is happy.
* It was a holiday in Germany the day of the debate, so no one really watched it.
* Kenya loves Obama because his father was Kenyan.
* China seems well-informed and has varied opinions on the election.
* Spain has been mentioned in two debates now as an example of an ally whose leaders McCain refuses to meet with. Naturally, the Spanish lean toward Obama.
* Russia has ridiculed Palin’s claim that living near Russia in Alaska gives her foreign policy experience.
* Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh seems to have taken Palin under his wing, so some Indians like her.
* Nigeria isn’t really following the election but likes Obama because he’s black.
* England is more worried about the US economy than its election.

Image: Sarah Palin surrounded by Vikings, another key global demographic.

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