According to a poll conducted by the BBC World Service, from a sample of over 22,000 in 16 countries in all continents, the world is anxious for a win by the senator from Illinois. For instance, in the UK, says the report:
By more than a six-to-one margin, a majority in the United Kingdom would prefer to see Barack Obama elected president instead of John McCain. Britons are among the largest majorities saying that America’s relations with the rest of the world would remain the same under John McCain, while a majority says they would improve under Obama.
Support for Obama is pretty unambiguous in Britain. In Poland, though not so clear cut, support for John McCain is weak.
Thirty-eight per cent of Poles would like to see Barack Obama elected US president while just 13 per cent say they prefer John McCain and 49 per cent do not express an opinion.
Poles are divided on whether America’s relations with the world would improve if Obama were elected US president (33%) or whether they would largely stay the same (31%), though just 4 per cent feel they would become worse. Poles most commonly would see relations staying the same under a McCain presidency (41%), while 12 per cent say relations would improve and 6 per cent feel they would become worse.
Just 13 percent would vote for the Republican!
This is quite a change from four years ago. Back then, the Philippines, Nigeria and Poland were among the few countries to favour Bush's re-election. All three now favour Barrack Obama.
In the US itself, the Polonia vote is mixed. Rob Strybel, who is an American Pole based now in Warsaw, sums up the changing voting patterns of Poles through the decades. Like most immigrations they voted Democrat through the New Deal years.
But that changed from the radical sixties inwards, particularly after the disastrous McGovern loss to Nixon in 1972. Writes Strybel:
Polonia’s pro-Republican stance became more firmly grounded during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr, both of whom were seen as aiding the cause of Poland’s independence.
But now it is 2008, and Blacks, Jews, Latinos, trade-unionists and most Hollywood types have by and large remained Democratic sympathizers. With Polish Americans and voters with other East, Central and Southern European roots, political loyalties are more diversified. Some say that most Polish Americans have made the transition into the middle class and do not perceive themselves as a separate electorate with specific needs.
So Poles do not vote a block anymore and have differsyfied in terms of class, areas where they live and so on. They have, in short, become more American.
The central issue, I think, for everyone watching the election, both in the US and outside, is: which candidate can get back the respect, at home and abroad, for the “Land of the Free”? I think that a vote for Obama just might get back some of that respect. But you never know - after four years the world might be ready for Mrs Palin.
God save us. God bless America: the only country in the world which has the bright idea of representing its two main parties by the sign of an elephant...and a donkey?