Four years after the surge of the so called “Obamania” in Europe, Barack Obama does not raise as much passion as in the earlier days but yet remains widely acclaimed by Europeans as opposed to his Republican opponent Mitt Romney.
A survey carried by the German Marshall Fund, had revealed that 75% of European Union residents would vote for Obama, against only 8% for Mitt Romney. Obama is particularly appreciated by the French and the Germans with whom his score is close to 90%.
His popularity in Europe is attributed, in particular, to actions taken to end the war in Iraq and the health reform in the U.S, among other policies. However, Europeans have also been disappointed by the American president, especially with the broken promise of closing the Guantanamo prison and because they think Obama has not been able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Despite that, the Democrat candidate remains close to the European social democracy than Romney will ever be.
And, although most European leaders are careful to not publicly speak of their preferred candidate in the U.S. elections, French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault has clearly favored Obama over Romney.
As for Mitt Romney, he suffers from the fact that he is still largely unknown in Europe. In fact, only 1 in 3 Europeans have heard of him. And for long they saw him as a moderate. But that is no longer the case. The general belief is that he has hardened in his speech, throughout his campaign, catching up with the neoconservatives close to former President George W. Bush. This has not been beneficial for Romney when it comes to public opinion (Bush left so many inglorious memories in the eyes of most Europeans). Only 23% have a favorable view of the Republican candidate.
Europe has not really been a topic of great debate in the U.S. presidential campaign that has been more focused on the economy and jobs. And the few times the old continent was mentioned were not really meaningful or not always for good reasons, in particular when Romney uses Greece as bad example of public finances.
Regardless, in overall, 71% of Europeans are satisfied with the way Barack Obama has been handling American foreign policy so far. But that is a drop of 12% since 2009. And whatever the outcome, most do not expect profound changes in the American foreign policy, after November 6th.
Beyond Europe, other countries have also taken interest in the outcome of the American election. Although in most cases Obama is still widely acclaimed, he has lost ground in Muslim countries and in Asia. Indeed, another poll by Pew Research Center shows that 66% of Japanese want the re-election of the incumbent president against 31% of Chinese. In turkey 39% of people want Obama back in service, but 18% of Egyptians or 7% of Pakistanis. But in spite of this global interest, it is clear that all these polls would not have any implication for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.