Poll: US-Europe relations need Obama
By significant margins, Europeans have high hopes for a potential Obama administration, according to a Transatlantic Trends poll of twelve European countries.
Forty-seven percent of Europeans believe an Obama victory in November would lead to a better relationship between the United States and Europe, compared with just 5 percent who think Obama would weaken the transatlantic relationship.
By comparison, only 11 percent think Sen. John McCain would strengthen European-American relations if he were elected president. More than half of respondents said a McCain administration would keep relations between the United States and Europe in roughly the condition they are now.
The poll, commissioned by the German Marshall Fund and conducted by the firm TNS Opinion from June 4-28, queried at least a thousand respondents in each of a dozen counties, including Germany, France, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey.
The survey's release Wednesday follows the news of a BBC poll, conducted by the GlobeScan service and published Tuesday, showing that in 17 of 22 nations tested, respondents across the globe expected an Obama win would improve American relations with the rest of the world.
It also comes on the heels of a Tuesday report that Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom, intends to publish a column praising Obama's response to the troubled real estate market. In an unorthodox step for a foreign leader, Brown is expected to argue: "In the electrifying U.S. Presidential campaign, it is the Democrats who are generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times."
According to the Transatlantic Trends report, Brown's upbeat assessment of the Democratic presidential nominee is shared by the majority of his country: 75 percent of British respondents said they had a favorable or very favorable opinion of Obama.
Among Europeans more generally, that number was only slightly lower: 69 percent said they had a favorable impression of the Illinois senator.
McCain's favorability ratings are considerably lower, with just 26 percent of Europeans giving him the thumbs-up. He is also significantly less well-known than Obama: 29 percent of respondents did not render an up-or-down judgment on the Republican nominee, compared to just 19 percent who had no impression of Obama.
It is hardly shocking that Obama would be better-liked in Europe than his opponent, given that McCain is a member of the same political party as George W. Bush. President Bush has consistently received dismal poll ratings from abroad, and in 2004 a GlobeScan survey showed Europeans favored the election of Sen. John F. Kerry by similarly wide margins – 74-7 percent in Norway, 74-10 percent in Germany and 64-5 percent in France.
It is also no surprise that Europeans would be more familiar with Obama than with McCain. In late July, Obama toured several European nations as part of a weeklong trip abroad, giving a speech in Berlin that attracted an audience in the hundreds of thousands.
Yet even as the Transatlantic Trends poll highlights Obama's popularity in Europe, it outlines some of the diplomatic hurdles that any American president will face, regardless of party.
Where 80 percent of Americans call it very or somewhat desirable for the United States to "exert strong leadership in world affairs," just 33 percent of Europeans say the same. A quarter of European respondents called an assertive United States "very undesirable."
While a majority of Europeans – 55 percent – said the United States and the European Union have close enough values to make diplomatic cooperation possible, they're still less confident about it than Americans, 67 percent of whom said the United States and the E.U. could tackle international issues together.
And some persistent diplomatic disagreements, like the proper resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also remain: Europeans expressed considerably less positive feelings about the state of Israel than Americans.