New Gallup Poll: Europe’s big three are Obama country

If choosing a U.S. president were up to the French, the Germans, and the British, Barack Obama would have a lock on the presidency. As Gallup reports today, large majorities in three countries the Illinois senator plans to visit this week would rather see Obama elected than John McCain. They also say that which candidate ...

593821_080722_obamatrip15.gif
593821_080722_obamatrip15.gif

If choosing a U.S. president were up to the French, the Germans, and the British, Barack Obama would have a lock on the presidency. As Gallup reports today, large majorities in three countries the Illinois senator plans to visit this week would rather see Obama elected than John McCain. They also say that which candidate wins "makes a difference" to their country.

This poll fits well our intuitions about Europe's big three: They tend to favor Democrats, and they don't like George W. Bush. In 2007, Gallup found that approval of U.S. leadership in those countries had sunk to disturbing depths: -- reaching just 8 percent in Germany, 9 percent in France, and 20 percent in Britain. Gallup attributes the low numbers to the Iraq war, the U.S. stance on climate change, and anger over Guantánamo.

If choosing a U.S. president were up to the French, the Germans, and the British, Barack Obama would have a lock on the presidency. As Gallup reports today, large majorities in three countries the Illinois senator plans to visit this week would rather see Obama elected than John McCain. They also say that which candidate wins “makes a difference” to their country.

This poll fits well our intuitions about Europe’s big three: They tend to favor Democrats, and they don’t like George W. Bush. In 2007, Gallup found that approval of U.S. leadership in those countries had sunk to disturbing depths: — reaching just 8 percent in Germany, 9 percent in France, and 20 percent in Britain. Gallup attributes the low numbers to the Iraq war, the U.S. stance on climate change, and anger over Guantánamo.

The differences between Obama and McCain on these issues, at least on a superficial level, appear to be narrowing. Both Obama and McCain have pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq — they are now arguing over whether to set an explicit timetable for doing so or whether to allow “conditions on the ground” to be the determining factor. Both Obama and McCain want to join international efforts to combat global warming, though Obama would push for greater emissions cuts. And both senators would like to see Guantánamo shut down. From a European perspective, either senator would be a step up from Bush (or at least the Bush of 2004).

If Obama does win in November, the great expectations he is setting in Europe could come back to haunt him. As Anne-Marie Slaughter, quoting a German friend, wrote last year, “Underneath every America-hater is a disappointed America-lover.” Last week, one European diplomat shared with me his fear that the real Obama can’t possibly live up to the hype. (Try, for instance, counting the votes in the Senate for a climate-change bill with real teeth.) This is the moment, then, for Obama to tell Europeans that he is going to let them down. Better they hear it from his own lips now than figure it out on their own, two years down the road.

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