Poll shows Europeans would re-elect Obama in a landslide

US President Barack Obama walks to board Marine One September 12, 2012 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. Obama was heading to Nevada and Colorado to campaign. (AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN)

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Barack Obama remains hugely popular in Europe where most people back his foreign policy, while his Republican challenger Mitt Romney is largely unknown, a poll found Wednesday.

If Europeans could vote on Nov. 6, some 75 percent of EU residents would re-elect Obama to the White House in a landslide while only 8 percent would opt for Romney, said the Transatlantic Trends 2012 poll.

Carried out in June among more than 15,500 people across Europe, the United States and Russia, the survey revealed that 82 percent of Europeans said they had a favorable opinion of Democrat Obama.

However, asked about Romney, the ex-governor of Massachusetts running against Obama in November’s election, 39 percent were unfavorable and 38 percent either did not know or refused to answer.

Despite the high numbers however, Obama’s popularity has dropped in Europe since he took office as America’s first black president in 2009, with approval for his foreign policy falling from 83 percent to 71 percent.

And the U.S. president does not bask in such favor at home, although a majority of Americans, some 57 percent, said they were favorable toward him compared to 40 percent against.

Some 49 percent of Americans said they were unfavorable toward Romney.

The annual survey by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo, carried out among 15 countries, also showed that transatlantic ties remain strong.

Some 61 percent of EU residents said the United States was more important to their country’s interests than Asia, while some 55 percent of Americans believed the same was true of Europe.

There was also common agreement on the punishing effects of the economic and eurocrisis, as well as that their countries should not get involved in the conflict in Syria.

In the EU, 65 percent said they had been personally affected by the economic crisis (up from 61 percent), while in the United States, 79 percent said they had been personally affected.

And residents on both sides of the Atlantic were critical of their governments’ handling of the crisis.

Some 52 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy – the issue dominating the elections here – and 56 percent of EU residents were angered by their leaders’ responses.

A majority of people in both America and Europe, meanwhile, saw NATO as essential to their security, but they disagreed on engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“What this survey shows is that, regardless of who is elected in November, the transatlantic challenges are real,” said GMF president Craig Kennedy. “Transatlantic Trends shows that there is enough common sentiment on Syria, Iran and the economic crisis to turn positive feelings into cooperation.”

However, Compagnia di San Paolo Chairman Sergio Chiamparino said that there were some worrying trends in the results “from the deep differences between northern and southern European countries to the lack of trust in governments.”

Russia was included for the first time in the survey, and interestingly some 50 percent of Russians had favorable views of the U.S. while 64 percent had a good opinion of the EU.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 13, 2012, on page 11.




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