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Visualization of how the world views US election

Obama_mccain Unless you've been living in a cave, you are probably aware that there is an important election about to take place in the United States (though I suspect at least some cave dwellers are very much aware of this too). Although one candidate seems to have an advantage with one week to go, it's more or less a race that's too close to call. You know how Americans feel about the candidates, but what about the rest of the world?


This satirical world map above from Dan Roam's blog is quite amusing, and although it's strictly tongue-in-cheek, it does somewhat reflect how those outside the United States actually view the US presidential candidates and the election.

If the world could vote
If you want a more accurate depiction of what the world thinks, checkout an interesting site by the folks at Gallup on the Foreign Policy website. I've met a lot of people from all over the world this past year. Many times people tell me — jokingly, of course — that they should be allowed to vote in the US election since the results have such an impact on their own country. Well, no one is suggesting that non US citizens be allowed to vote for the next US president, but the question is a good one: What if the world could vote? What would the polls look like? Gallup conducted this poll in 70 countries between May and September of this year. (Teachers in the US may find this website particularly useful. And make sure you checkout the videos and data on the Gallup World Poll website — some really interesting data there.)

Above: This map (click to enlarge) from the foreignpolicy/gallup page gives a quick, superficial overview of who the majority of people in each country prefer to win the election. The reason you do not see red (McCain) is that in the four countries where McCain polls ahead of Obama, McCain is still surpassed by the number of people who have no preference. Go to the foreignpolicy/gallup page and select a country to get more detailed information on poll results and some analysis.

Above: This map shows the results for the question "do US election results make a difference in your country?"

Gallup: In developed Asia, a clear preference for Obama
Here are some simple bar charts. The color pallet is very simple and consistent. (Source.)


Gallup: Japanese back Obama over McCain
Gallup suggests that Japan may in part have a more favorable view of Obama due to his opposition to the Iraq war. The US-Japan relationship is very strong, but President Bush is not popular here for various reasons and this is seen to help make Obama more popular.


The line chart below shows the general mood of Japanese toward the US on the issue of trust over time (though Japanese do not give high marks for their own government either).

Who cares?
So what does all this mean? Gallup gives some analysis for many of the countries, and you will have your own conclusions, including that it just doesn't matter. That's fine. My only real intent was to point out this Gallup website as I know many of you will find this useful. I have a class tomorrow which has students from 14 different countries; we're going to spend some time looking at the results and interpreting what they mean, etc.

Here's another website that's been taking some polling (
unscientific, but interesting nonetheless).
Find the latest Gallup polling news on the election here.


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